By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Police say they’ve never seen a string of taxi thefts like this.
It’s like a real life version of Grand Theft Auto. A car thief is allegedly stealing cabs and using them during shootings and robberies.
Southwest Detectives are looking for a man who they say is responsible for the string of car thefts in West and Southwest Philadelphia.
He is suspected of stealing 10 cabs in a span of nine days, starting last Sunday. They are similar styles, but from different cab companies.
Lt. Walker says, “This is bizarre, talking to the parking authority over the last 10 years, they had five cabs stolen. We have 10 cabs stolen in nine days, so this is the first time this has happened.”
He adds, “Looks like they are just targeting models 2007 to 2009 Ford Crown Victoria, most of them are from a police fleet. They buy them at an auction.”
Six of the cabs have the 215-Get-A-Cab logo and the suspect or suspects seem to know the ins and outs of a cab.
Just last week police responded to a shooting at Palm and Ogden Streets in West Philadelphia.
Police say the suspect was a passenger in taxi cab.
And early Monday morning, a stolen taxi was used in a robbery on the 4000 block of Westminster Avenue.
Lt. Walker says, “A victim walking down the street, three males get out of a cab, we believe it is one of these cabs that were stolen. They robbed the male, pointed a gun and they flee in a cab and the cab is later found at 5000 Wyalusing.”
A surveillance vide shows the man just walks up to the parked cab, gets in and drives off.
The thief disables the GPS tracking device before taking off.
Police have a theory how the cars are getting stolen.
“In some of them we think the ignition is worn out. A lot of keys will work in those particular cars.”
So far, five of the 10 stolen cabs have been recovered by police. Officers are worried the man will pretend to be an actual cab driver and pick up unsuspecting passengers.
“The public is clearly at risk at this point, especially people who are traveling late at night.”
Right now police do not have a good description of the suspect and they are unsure if he is acting alone or if there are other suspects.
Police urge the public to check two forms of ID when getting in a cab, a rear facing card and a driver’s certificate.
If you have any information you are asked to call police.