Some cab drivers are changing the way they do business in response to a recent rash of robberies aimed at those behind the wheel.
During the past month and a half, four taxi drivers have had their cash and/or cabs stolen after picking up fares.
The latest case involved a 44-year-old cabbie who called police to a gas station near Interstate 35 and Rittiman Road shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The driver told officers he had been robbed at gunpoint and beaten by three men who he’d picked up at a nearby apartment complex.
Last month, one other driver lost his cash to crooks, while two others lost their entire cabs.
“Taxi people offer a great service for the city. We are an extension of the city,” said Chris Kolemalaiki, who drives a cab. “For somebody to be thinking of robbing taxi people is really wrong."
Kolemalaiki said the recent crime wave has him concerned. He said he also has noticed other drivers being more cautious when it comes to picking up customers.
“If you tell some taxi people, 'I'm going to the East side', they won't take you,” he said. “Some other taxi people might have to ask you for a deposit up front."
Norbert Landin, a driver with Yellow Cab, said he also has begun requiring payment in advance from some fares.
He’s also careful not to take chances when it comes to destinations, making sure he drops off customers “in a safe place.”
Danger, though, is just a part of the job that Mostafa Naini has come to expect.
However, he said he did change his work schedule in the hope of avoiding trouble.
“I don’t work the night shift,” he said. “I used to work the night shift, but not anymore.”
Others believe it’s a change in the law that is needed. Some drivers said they would like to be able to carry weapons in the cabs.