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May 9, 2014

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Unlicensed cabby dies after being abducted

UNLICENSED taxi drivers were given a stark reminder of the dangers of their chosen profession yesterday, as police announced details of a female cabby who died after being assaulted by her passengers.

The woman, surnamed Fang, was attacked and robbed by two men, surnamed Gu and Huang, who contacted her and asked to be picked up near the Daye Highway in Fengxian District on the evening of March 27.

Once inside the vehicle, however, the pair grabbed Fang and bundled her onto the backseat. After tying her hands behind her back and putting a bag over her head, they robbed her of a gold ring, a bracelet and 150 yuan (US$24) cash, police said.

Soon after, Fang had a seizure and began struggling for breath. At that point, Huang became scared and fled the scene, while Gu drove away in the Audi with its owner still on the back seat.

When Gu realized that Fang was no longer breathing, he turned the car into a construction site in Songjiang District and tried to hide her body under the seat before fleeing the scene.

The dead woman was later discovered in the abandoned vehicle, and the emergency services were alerted.

Following a manhunt the two men were detained by police on April 22: Gu in Zhoupu Town in the Pudong New Area and Huang in Nanqiao Town, Fengxian District.

Police said the pair worked part-time in the city and planned the robbery as they were having financial difficulties. They said they selected Fang as a victim because she had told them during a previous taxi ride that she was quite affluent.

On the night of the attack, the men were armed with a knife, rope and masks, police said.

While they didn’t say what charges Gu and Huang may face, they did issue a strong warning to all unlicensed cabbies.

“These drivers not only interrupt the market, but they also run a huge risk to their personal safety,” said Ye Jun, vice captain of the Pudong criminal investigation team.

Many have had violent encounters with passengers, often as a result of a fare dispute, while others have been swindled by people posing as law enforcement officials who issue them with fake fines.

Whereas licensed taxi drivers have a degree of protection due to the fact they are connected to a dispatch system and have cars fitted with GPS, illegal drivers have no such safety net in an emergency situation, Ye said.

In recent months, Shanghai’s traffic authorities have been cracking down on the operators of “black” and cloned taxis in the city.

If caught, drivers face fines of between 10,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan, and under a new regulation currently being discussed by the Shanghai People’s Congress, could have their vehicles permanently confiscated.


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