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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Cabbie Says It's A 'War On'

ST. PETERSBURG - A 49-year-old cabdriver was robbed Wednesday night, the fourth such incident in less than a week, police say. The cabdriver was dispatched to 2310 First Ave. S. at 9:51 p.m., said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman George Kajtsa. The Tampa Tribune is not using the cabdriver's name because no arrest has been made. After he was dispatched, the taxi driver didn't find anyone at that address, so he drove around and saw a man walk from behind a house, Kajtsa said. The driver, who works for Independent Taxi, presumed the man was his fare, and the man got in the back of the cab, Kajtsa said.
The customer asked to be taken to a nearby service station, but once there he asked the cabdriver to take him back to the pickup location because he had forgotten his cell phone, Kajtsa said. Once there, the customer put a gun to the cabdriver's neck and demanded cash, Kajtsa said. The cabdriver gave him his wallet and a small amount of cash, then bolted from his cab, Kajtsa said. He turned and saw the robber running in the opposite direction, so he returned to his cab and called 911, Kajtsa said. In two hours on July 10, two cabdrivers were robbed. One was shot in the collarbone but survived, St. Petersburg police said. "It's like right now, it's a war on cabbies," said the taxi driver who was shot in the collarbone. "The fact that it's dangerous is an understatement." Saturday, a female cabdriver, Linda Faison, 39, was found slain in an incident investigators say might have been a robbery. The St. Petersburg Police Department plans to meet with owners of taxi companies and delivery-based businesses next week to give them tips on how to stay safe. There have been 18 taxi cab robberies since the beginning of the year in St. Petersburg. Some company owners and drivers think they need to arm themselves. "What I think we ought to do is shoot back," said the cabdriver who was wounded last week. "I think what we ought to do is start putting some of them in the ground." "If I do get a call I don't know about, and if I do decide to take it, I'm going to have my gun in my hand and I'm going to be ready to shoot," he said.

Reporter Stephen Thompson can be reached at (727) 451-2336 or [email protected] Reporter Rod Challenger can be reached at (727) 536-9603 or [email protected]

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