Two Anchorage cab drivers ambushed by attackers in less than a week

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A Checker Cab driver says he was beaten and robbed late Saturday night by a group of people who had called to ask for help unlocking their car, the second such attack in less than a week.

According to the cab company, the assailants contacted the dispatch center at around 11 p.m. saying they’d been locked out of their car in the West High School parking lot. Longtime cab driver Tony Dema, who carries a slim jim in his car, made his way over to help them out.

Dashcam footage from Dema’s vehicle shows him pulling up next to a dark-colored sedan, parked behind a snow bank on the otherwise empty lot. Two individuals are briefly seen in the footage. Dema says it was a man and a woman.

“You guys locked the keys in the car?” Dema asked the two people.

“Yeah we did,” the man replied.

After parking his cab, Dema got out the vehicle to assist the stranded people. That’s when he says the man grabbed him by his jacket and tried to force him to the ground. The woman hit him several times on the head with a metal bar.

The cab driver gave the assailants all the money they had, which was less than $20. Then they got back in their car and drove away. Bleeding profusely from his head, Dema says he was able to get back in his cab and call for help. He was eventually taken to a local hospital where he received multiple stitches. As of Monday, he says he’s recovering well from the attack.

The incident appears very similar to another attack against a cab driver that happened just a few nights prior. On Thursday night, a yellow cab driver was lured to the Ship Creek area, also under the pretense of helping a man and a woman claiming to be locked out of their vehicle. That cabbie was held at gunpoint, beaten inside the trunk of his own car, and robbed.

Checker Cab owner Michael Thompson says the disturbing attacks have resulted in a change of protocol for the company.

“We are sending two drivers now for a slim jim,” Thompson told Channel 2 on Monday. “If there’s not two available we’re instructing the drivers to face forward with the cab because we have cameras and that way the camera can get whatever happens just in case something like this happens again.”

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