Lyft, Uber and Sidecar declined to provide the Tribune with a list of their Chicago drivers.
One driver that Uber did provide, Tadeusz Szczechowicz, 24, of Burbank, pleaded guilty to felony residential burglary in Cook County in 2010 and received a two-year probation sentence.
He was also convicted of misdemeanor criminal damage to property in 2009 and another misdemeanor for breaking into a 2002 Toyota for a GPS and satellite radio receiver in Homer Glen in 2008. Szczechowicz has a history of speeding tickets and had his license suspended twice in 2008 for having two moving violations within a 24-month period and for the criminal trespass to vehicle conviction. Only the felony conviction, however, should have disqualified Szczechowicz to be an Uber ride-share driver under the company's rules.
When asked about his record, Szczechowicz denied it was him and hung up the phone. "I think you have the wrong person," he said.
Uber officials on Thursday, however, confirmed Szczechowicz had been a partner until they severed ties with him this week.
Although Szczechowicz's conviction was not caught in their background check, Uber officials said the multistate screening they have been using has caught many county criminal convictions, including some in Cook County.
"To be clear the Uber X drivers in Chicago have gone through a very comprehensive check that we believe in and we are just trying to close that small remaining gap," said Andrew Macdonald, regional general manager of Uber Midwest. But Uber officials said they did not know how many county convictions they may have missed.
Uber said gaps in background checks exist elsewhere, pointing to the city of Chicago, which usually does not check national databases for taxi driver screens. City officials said Thursday they plan to start instituting those checks this spring.
New city proposal
Chicago's proposed ordinance would require the ride-sharing companies to rule out drivers who have been convicted of a felony and certain misdemeanors within the past five years. They would also have to dismiss drivers with serious driving infractions, such as a DUI, within the past year.
Ride-sharing companies however would still be responsible for the background checking process. The proposal does not specify which jurisdictions would be included in a background check.
Officials said the companies could impose even stricter policies and would be subjected to record-keeping requirements for three years and periodic city audits. Under the city's regulatory proposal, ride-sharing companies would be required to check the eligibility of drivers annually.
The proposal also calls for the companies to display the name and photo of the driver, a picture of the vehicle and license plate number on their apps and websites.
"We're trying to put in place a structure where we are holding these ride-share companies accountable for making sure that their drivers are trained and safe." said Michael Negron, Emanuel's chief of policy.
If approved by the City Council, the ordinance would go into effect 90 days after passage.
Vivanco is a RedEye reporter. Dizikes is a Tribune reporter.