THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Thieves are targeting taxi cabs on the west side of the valley and now the cab company is taking expensive security measures. American Cab Company plans to install surveillance cameras in its vehicles after a recent rash of break-ins. The company reports nine of its vehicles have been broken into in the last month in Cathedral City and Palm Springs. The break-ins usually take place at night when cabs are parked at the drivers' homes. Hilmi Abdelrazik had his cab broken into in Palm Springs. "I was in shock, I went to my car to go back to work, to the airport or downtown and wow," said Abdelrazik.
The tablet connects him to dispatch and also works as a G.P.S. Drivers cannot take the tablets inside at night because they are bolted to the vehicle. Each tablet costs about $200 and without it, cabs stay in park. "Without this, you're not going to make money," said Abdelrazink. "It takes two days to fix it, it costs a lot of money, for the company and the driver."
In an effort to stop people from stealing these tablets, American Cab plans to put tracking devices on each tablet, as well as installing cameras in each of their 76 vehicles. Each camera system costs about $1200. They say a small price to pay for security. "The costs are substantial like always, I think they will provide increased safety, not just for our tablets or when the cab's powered up but it will also provide a safety for the consumers," said Harry Incs, the manager for American Cabs.
The new security measures could also help police catch person or persons who stole from the cabs. "We're able to track down suspects and eventually what it does is lead us to solving lots of crimes at one time, for those individuals that didn't have GPS, so it works out great," said Palm Springs PD Sergeant Mike Kovaleff.
American Cab is also offering a $2500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the thieves.