Bandit taxi crackdown at Los Angeles International Airport

With holiday flying in full flower, Los Angeles International Airport is cracking down on “bandit cabbies,” those who approach passengers as they wait for ground transportation. Their promise: cut-rate, sometimes “first class” ground transportation to your hotel. In a limo, perhaps.

Airport police say these illegal, for-hire operators are unsafe. Neither the California Public Utilities Commission nor the City of Los Angeles allows them to pick up passengers at LAX. The reasons: bandit taxicab operators often don’t have proper commercial drivers licenses, and don’t carry commercial insurance. Airport police also say their vehicles can have mechanical problems.

In a sweep employing more than 15 plain-clothes and Airport Police officers, four alleged bandit taxi drivers were stopped and investigated. All four were cited and their vehicles impounded. One of the drivers was operating a taxi with a suspended driver’s license and no permit. Another drove an unmarked rented van. Airport Police cited a pair of other drivers for illegally soliciting in the terminal.

This isn’t the first time LAX Airport Police have pressured bandit taxis to protect passengers. In March 2005 they conducted a similar sweep. In that one they pulled 14 vehicles off the street, and cited 19 drivers. So far in 2005, 116 bandit taxi citations have been issued.

To improve the chances of getting a safe, secure ride from the airport to your destination, LAX Airport Police offer these tips: board vehicles in designated areas, specifically the Lower/Arrivals Level. And, don’t accept rides from people who solicit you in the terminals or at curbside.

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