ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Taxi drivers in Anchorage are concerned about their safety after two cabbies were robbed late at night, within 24-hours of each other.
"They are very, very concerned" said Jacki Ransom, a taxi permit owner who leases cabs to drivers. "Their families are very concerned. They happened at night and it makes the night drivers even more afraid of picking up customers late at night."
APD says the first robbery happened in the 900-block of West 11th Avenue at 2:20 a.m. on July 24th. Police say the victim stated he was headed home after his shift. When the victim pulled over to park, he saw a light blue or silver small sedan drive up and then stop. A male suspect got out of the car, approached the cab, pointed a gun at the victim, and demanded money. The taxi driver handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect then left in the same car he arrived in.
APD says the suspect was described as a light-skinned black male juvenile with short hair and a thin build and was wearing dark clothing.
In security camera video in the cab, the driver can be heard telling the gunman "I'm an old man." the robber is heard saying "I know you are. That's why I'm trying not to kill you."
The second robbery happened less than 24-hours later, on July 25th at 12:09 a.m. Police say the driver stated he had just dropped off a fare, and pulled up to a stop sign at Kovey Street and Deborah Lynn Circle when he was flagged down by a male. The suspect got into the back seat of the cab, pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the cab driver, and demanded both money and the cab driver’s vehicle keys. The victim handed over an undisclosed amount of cash and his keys to the suspect. The suspect left the cab, ran a short ways down the street to a parked silver car, got into the silver car and drove away.
The driver in the second robbery, who's name KTUU is withholding to protect his safety, said "I had no choice, you know. Otherwise, he shoot me."
APD says the suspect in the second robbery was described as a black and white mixed race male, approximately 5’09” tall and wearing dark clothing.
Mike Thompson, owner of Checker Cab Dispatch, says the robberies have put drivers on edge. "All the drivers are aware of their surroundings. at nighttime, they're looking around as they're dropping people off making sure there's not someone following them."
Even though the descriptions of the suspects and getaway cars are similar, APD says it doesn't know for sure if the robberies are the work of the same man. "We are looking into the possibility that the two cases are connected but we do not have definitive information at this time that allows us to positively say they are" said Renee Oistad, APD spokesperson.
Ransom is questioning why APD has not put out a public alert with a photo of the suspect in the second robbery. "If they put the picture out there, we believe people would call in with the name of this guy" Ransom said. "We're worried about him escalating and maybe hurting or murdering somebody."
"Just like any case we respond to, It’s up to the investigating officers to determine if they want photos to be released to the public or not" Oistad said. "Each investigation is different, sometimes releasing a photo hampers an investigation so it really depends on the circumstances."