• Center for Problem oriented policing

Summary of Responses to Robbery of Taxi Drivers

The table below summarizes the responses to taxi driver robbery, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Vehicle Equipment
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
1Separating drivers from passengers Keeps offenders from reaching drivers to carry out threats...most robbers attack from back seat, screens are fitted on all cabs, and cabs are purpose-built or largeScreens are expensive to install, passengers need to wear seat belts to prevent sudden-stopping injuries
2Recording activity with security camerasIncreases chances of offenders being caught, may discourage offenders from from doing crime...camera and any resulting prosecutions are publicizedCameras need to be well-designed for the environment, passengers may question how images will be used, offenders may try to destroy camera evidence, resulting in escalation of the crime event
3Using a radio or alarm to call for helpPermits the driver to notify others that a crime is in progress or has occurred...technology is easy to use and unlikely to be tripped accidentally, location and problem can be communicated, and help is close at handGood training in use of equipment and clear protocols for use response are needed
4Keeping track of vehicle locations with automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems Allows a third party to know where the cab is if an alarm or distress call is received...used with an alarm system, system is constantly monitored, and help is close at handSystems are expensive to install and clear protocols for response are needed
5Putting trunk latches on the inside of vehicle trunks as well as near drivers Allows drivers imprisoned in trunks to get out, and prevents drivers from having to get out if the vehicle if a situation seems unsafe...driver is not badly hurt when placed in the trunk, driver is able to correctly assess the dangerousness of a situationLatches in trunks are designed to reduce level of injury while latches in vehicles require driver judgement of a situation that may not always be clear
6Disabling vehicles Prevents vehicles from getting to desired place for robbery or offenders from getting away in vehicles...it is safe to stop the cab and it is in an area where help is readily available, and it is safer to have robbers unable to get away than to have them escape after a robberyPotential response from offenders may escalate the incident
7Eliminating cash payments Lowers the amount of ready cash in vehicles, making drivers less attractive targets...variety of payments methods results in little or no cash in vehicleNature of regular clientele may make it difficult for drivers to move to a cashless system, and use of even small amounts of money may still make drivers attractive to some offenders
8Dropping money off Lowers the amount of ready cash in vehicles, making drivers less attractive targets...it is easy and safe for drivers to drop money off at ATMs, home, or baseSecuring alternative sites may be difficult or costly, with some alternatives (ATMs) providing records of money earned
9Keeping money locked up or out of sight Makes it difficult for offenders to find or get money, or to know exact amount carried...drivers can refer to some rule or practice that confirms that little money is availableMoney locked in safes, with notice given, could escalate the incident to kidnapping or vehicle theft
10Minimizing expectations about the amount of money present Prevents offenders from expecting or being tempted by the knowledge of large amounts of cash present...it is reasonable to believe the driver is telling the truthOffenders may not believe drivers, may be willing to rob them even for a very small amount of money
Other Driver Practices
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
11Controlling who gets in Allows driver to assess who enters the vehicle and when, and how many people enter the vehicle, since keeping people out is easier than getting them out once they are in...robberies in an area are committed by offenders who have characteristics that make them easily identifiable, such as being unruly, and allow the driver to legally refuse them entryNot enough is known about robbers to make them easily identifiable so screening can lead to racial or residential discrimination, with drivers violating regulations that usually require them to take all passengers (except in limited circumstances)
12Directing passengers to particular seats in the cab Keeps passengers from sitting in the seats most associated with robberies in an area...the cab is not crowded and the passenger is not insulted by the requestWhere safety screens have been installed, passengers should not be able to sit in the front seat if it is within the barrier
13Finding out the destination before moving Identifies those who are not seeking a ride but are looking for a good location to carry out a robbery...offenders do not have a plausible destination to offer driverDrivers should be alerted when passengers change destination en route
14Sharing destination information with others Informs passengers that someone outside the cab knows of their destination and possible route or has seen them...offenders are uncertain who and how many people know destination or, if given within sight of another driver, whether another driver can identify themThis strategy may not provide any additional crime prevention effect if the cab has an AVL device
15Putting additional people in the cab Increases the perceived difficulty of doing a robbery and if successful, the risk that the offender will be identified...increasing the number of people in the cab does not lead to increased problems for driver, such as conflicts among passengersThese schemes may only be popular among passengers where cabs are scarce (ride-sharing) and driver companions are not seen as increasing the risk of assault on passengers by drivers
16Setting rules and asking those who don't meet them to get out Informs potential offenders that drivers are willing to control what happens in the cab, or deflects potential offenders away from the cab at an early stage of what may become a robbery event...driver rules are backed up by official rules from the regulator or taxi companyResearch on the unfolding of robbery events is limited
17Trying not to provoke passengers Prevents passengers from using driver behavior as an excuse for criminal behavior...drivers know the types of responses or situations that may provoke an aggressive response or escalate aggression by passengersTaxi regulators may eliminate some sources of conflict between drivers and passengers by setting rules for handling common situations (No. 26) or running training programs for drivers (No. 28)
18Knowing where to go for help late at night Increases drivers' chances of gaining assistance before, during, or after a robbery event...those at the 24-hour location know it has been identified as a place where assistance may be sought and are trained in handling these types of situationsDrivers must be kept informed when 24-hour locations close down, particularly if they are police stations
19Allowing others to see inside the cab Increases the possibility that a third party will see the driver in trouble and call the police...robbery occurs in an area where there is vehicle or street trafficThis measure has not been evaluated in relation to taxicabs though it is among a group of factors found to be effective in limiting convenience store robberies
20Limiting where the cab will make a drop off Protects driver from being surprised by the passenger or others at the drop-off location or limited in his/ her ability to get away, allows onlookers to monitor events more easily...driver is aware of the physical layout of the street prior to entry into itDemonstrates the importance of having good data available to drivers about where crimes have occurred
21Staying in the cab unless it is safe to get out Provides driver with a (limited) physical barrier to an attack from outside the cab and may be a means of getting away from an offender located in the cab...driver is protected by a screen or otherwise physically separated from the offenderDrivers should be trained to assess risks of leaving vehicles in different robbery scenarios and types of cabs, as they may vary greatly
22Limiting injury when a robbery occurs Keeps the robbery from escalating into a robbery with injury, or one with serious injury...driver is not so seriously injured that he/she cannot carry out protective activitiesDoes not prevent the crime from occurring but may be useful in limited situations
23Authorizing police stops Allows police to stop a cab without reasonable suspicion or probable cause...protocol followed by police is understood by driversProgram used must pass constitutional standards and limit the intrusion to the passengers
24Targeting repeat offenders Incapacitates those who have committed and may be most likely to commit future taxi robberies...police can gather the information needed to identify and locate repeat offenders, and have the resources to find themRequires substantial police and other criminal justice system resources, as well as accurate information about the offenders
25Controlling the environment around taxi standsAllows drivers and others to see who is waiting at the stands or to supervise activity in the area s...area can be controlled to allow orderly waiting and turn taking by passengers and driversOrderly waiting at stands may increase the ability of all present to look for signs of danger among passengers as they enter cabs as well as while the cabs and passengers are waiting
26Eliminating passenger and driver conflict over money Prevents common conflicts that may escalate into aggressive behaviors...rules set up actually eliminate the conflict rather than setting up additional conflictsWhile this strategy may be used to serve additional concerns besides crime prevention, in terms of robbery, these standards may also prevent passengers from using driver behavior as an excuse for criminal behavior
27Setting driver competency standards Prevents common conflicts that may escalate into aggressive behaviors...it is clear what types of knowledge or competency are related to driver-passenger conflictsWhile this strategy may be used to serve additional concerns besides crime prevention, in terms of robbery, these standards may also prevent passengers from using driver behavior as an excuse for criminal behavior
28Running driver safety training programs Helps drivers deal with situations in which their response may affect whether a robbery is committed or not...programs are run by experts in the field and are seen as effective by driversThe costs of running the program should be split among the beneficiaries of better driver training, which may include the public, policing agencies, local taxi companies, as well as the drivers themselves
29Screening passengers by the dispatching company Uses lists of previously troublesome passengers or addresses, or technology (Caller-ID), to set up blacklists...the blacklist is based on passenger identification rather than address location, and passengers causing one type of trouble are also likely to do robberiesCan be over-inclusive if it relies on location or address since other non-troublesome potential passengers may be included on the blacklist and could result in racial or residential discrimination if the focus is not on the actual past behavior of passengers
30Exempting drivers from seat belt use Prevents an offender from using a belt to strangle the driver and allows the driver to exit the vehicle quickly...local area conditions provide a safe backdrop for beltless drivingShould not be needed if cabs are equipped with a screen between the passenger and the driver
Responses With Limited Potential for Efectiveness
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
31Locking passengers in Prevents passengers from exiting the cab without the driver's awareness or permission...there is a screen between passengers and driversIf there is no screen, then passengers may attack the driver unless he/she has exited the vehicle
32Working only during the day Keeps drivers from working during the times when robberies most often occur...industry conditions allow drivers to make a living only working daytime hours and no nightsMay only work for some drivers since the company may require 24-hour availability, and may only be a limited protection since some robberies occur during the daytime
33Carrying a weaponActs as a means for drivers to protect themselves during a crime or may deter offenders from attacking drivers who they think are armed...driver is trained in use of this weaponMay result in weapon being used against driver