Cabdrivers: Crooked Cabbie Gives Us a Bad Name - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/20/06

Cabdrivers: Crooked Cabbie Gives Us a Bad Name

Police say the woman pictured here is suspected of stealing from people who rode with her. Police say the woman pictured here is suspected of stealing from people who rode with her.

The case of a crooked cabbie (Police Warn of Cabdriver Who Steals ATM Cards) is stirring strong reaction in Savannah's taxicab community.

There are more than 20 taxicab companies in Chatham County, with as many as 150 registered cabbies. But one illegal cabdriver is getting all the attention. She was caught on tape, spending someone else's money from an ATM card and PIN police say she stole from a cab customer.

Taxi drivers say, she's giving them a bad name.

Stanley Waiters has 35 years driving a taxi. And 15 years for Larry Wilson. They both were shocked by news of a Savannah cabdriver stealing customers' ATM cards.

"I thought it was pretty rotten," said Wilson. "If she's driving a cab and doing this, it doesn't help business any."

"I take them to the ATM and they get out and do what they need to get money," said Waiters.

Waiters says he avoids any ATM activity with passengers. "I wouldn't know how to work one of them things," he laughed.

The woman in this image from Wal-Mart surveillance video is not to be confused with them.

"This woman is an opportunistic thief," Savannah Parking Services director Jim Gilliamsen told us. He says he has never seen the woman in the video. "She is not a permitted cabdriver."

And he says cabdrivers in Savannah must go through a quick, but extensive, process before ever picking up a customer. "This is not a taxicab driver we permitted. Our drivers, our fleet, are all good, all above board."

Here's what a taxicab driver must do to operate in Savannah. First, they have to go down to parking services and apply for a permit. Then there is a background check, which costs the cabbie $10. Drivers can buy or lease a taxi, which they must get inspected. And they need to keep the picture permit on them at all times. The permit costs $15.

Just because a car has a taxi sign on it and the driver asks if you need a ride doesn't mean they are legal. "Just to walk outside a saloon and say, 'Hey, you need a ride?' It's not a taxi," said Gilliamsen. "It's a ride, and you may be taken for a ride."

You can bet Larry Wilson and Stanley Waiters will have their eyes open for the crooked cabbie. Beside breaking the law, she's stealing their business too.

"It bothers us, it gives us a bad name, hurts our business," said Wilson.

And there are ways to tell a real, regulated cab from a gypsy cabdriver. All regulated cabs must have their rate structure posted on the taxi. And when you get in the cab, make sure there is a meter and the meter is running.

And finally, ask questions. If you think something is fishy, ask for the driver's picture permit, his or her name, and the phone number for the company he or she works for.

And don't let anyone, including a cabdriver, take your money out of an ATM for you.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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