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December 23, 2010

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Cloned cab workshop shut down by police

CITY traffic authorities and police have raided a "cloned" cab workshop and detained two suspects in Jiading District, officers said yesterday.

Police seized two vehicles disguised to look like a leading taxi firm's vehicles, plus an array of cab fittings, including overhead lamps, taximeters and "Vacant" signs.

The two suspects are from Binhai County in neighboring Jiangsu Province.

The workshop in the Chengzhong Village in Jiading District along the Taopu Highway had refitted, maintained and provided illegal fuel to more than 100 cloned taxis for more than three years, said a resident surnamed Zhang.

"Cabs that looked like they belonged to major taxi companies could be seen coming in and out the village every day, even though residents rarely called taxis," said Zhang.

Zhang became suspicious, conducted his own investigations and informed police.

Drivers would pay 5,000 (US$752) yuan for a set of devices, including overhead lamps and taximeters, to be installed on retired regular taxis. A finished cloned cab fetches about 50,000 yuan.

"Latterly, the workshop could refit three vehicles a day. Business was booming during the World Expo and they were earning at least 10,000 yuan a day," said Zhang.

Many cloned cabs con passengers by taking detours or charging more by rigging their taximeters.

Officials with the Shanghai Transport and Port Authority said despite destroying many illegal cabs, it was difficult to locate workshops.

By November, authorities had uncovered 307 cloned cabs - up on around 200 last year. Residents with tip-offs about illegal cabs can earn a 500 yuan reward from the city's taxi industry association. They can call 6535-3930.


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