Taxis in Panama City
Taxis in Panama City

A CRIMINAL gang that steals or rents taxis to commit robberies or steal from passenger is believed to be behind the increasing number of reported cases according to National Police statistics

From January 2014 to March 2015, at least 409 taxi drivers were involved in robberies and thefts. Regular drivers are not those engaging in the activity, but gangs, who rent a car for $30-35 a day, or steal taxis. A police source told El Siglo The taxis most commonly used for the offenses and the models most used are Kia Picanto and Kia Rio.

The areas where most offenses occur are San Miguelito, and Panama City.

The largest number of taxis are stolen in Eastern Panama where the population is less dense “They Usually steal old cars, because the lock is easier to violate “Captain Gustavo Batista Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) told El Siglo.

Batista said that the new taxis are more difficult to steal, because of their alarm systems.

He said the crooks also hire taxis because it is very easy to do.

“The car renters ask few questions, do not ask for police records or anything and sometimes, the person who owns the taxi itself gives the car to anyone. This makes it attractive to criminals” said Batista

The head of police operations, Jorge Rios, said constant police checkpoints are conducted in various parts of the country, to stop this new crime wave and he recommended that users be careful before boarding a taxi , verify that is has A plaque and other distinguishing number.

In 2014, 14 drivers were killed. Of these, at least 7 were robbed, the others were involved in criminal acts or were executed.

in 2014 more than 60 taxis were removed from circulation after it was found that the diver found that a driver hid carried drugs.

Rafael Reyes, leader of the drivers’ association said that unifying the color of taxis was a good idea; but users should note that not all yellow cars are taxis.

Some foreign businessmen have infiltrated the business of renting cars as taxis. The criminals who were involved in illegal car leasing, are now into taxis said Reyes.

He said that in the coming days the authorities will announce what should be the profile of a real taxi driver.

Comment: Using taxis is “must be” by every expat, even the ones owning the vehicles. Sometimes there is simply no other way, especially in Panama City. It’s always worth to be careful using taxis, not only in Panama, but entire Latin America.

Courtesy of NewsRoomPanama