Taxi dash cam nabs phone thief in the act

A man rips a cell phone out of a woman's hand. Little might he have imagined that a 180-degree camera on a taxi's dashboard would capture the whole thing.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Sometimes, when it comes to hidden cameras, good people can be watching.

That must surely be the view of a woman who was walking down a San Francisco street and had her cell phone snatched from her by a miscreant.

In shock, she paused for a few seconds before wondering what she should do. Before she had time to decide, a cab pulled up beside her. The driver explained that he'd not only seen the incident but also recorded it.

More precisely, his cab's 180-degree dashboard video camera had recorded it.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city's cab companies have been steadily mounting the video cameras on their taxis' dashboards.

In this case, not only did the driver stop, he suggested that the woman hop in with him, and they gave chase together, while she used his cell phone to call the police.

Soon afterward, Brandon C. West was arrested and charged with second-degree robbery. The cab reportedly managed to follow him to a bus stop, where the police managed to arrive and arrest him.

The cabbie told the Chronicle that he is a great supporter of the technology: "It makes me feel much safer. And when the police check the chips, they can see what is going on. It's going to be very healthy."

The footage shows just how easy it is to succumb to a cell phone thief coming from behind. Polk Street, where the incident took place, is one of San Francisco's schizophrenias, a road that includes chichi restaurants and boutiques, as well as extremely unpleasant characters whose primary mode of communication is spittle.

Many will support the extended use of cameras as a form of protection. There are also those who wonder just what sort of footage a cab driver might capture late at night for future delectation, amusement and, who knows, even more nefarious purposes.

So remember, kids: The police are watching you. Store detectives are watching you. Your schoolteachers are watching you. And now cab companies are watching you. Will Santa have one mounted on his sleigh?