Taxi federation asks police to help crack down on fare beaters

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THE BRONX -

The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers is calling on police for help cracking down on fare beaters who officials say are robbing drivers of their livelihood.

Fernando Mateo, the federation's founder, estimates that at least 20 percent of fares are robbed a day, meaning 2 out of 10 rides will go unpaid. Drivers say people sometimes walk out of the cab at red lights.

Aside from the fare problems, violent attacks are also keeping drivers on edge. Last Friday, a Bronx cab driver was punched in the face after picking up an $18 fare in Soundview. The couple involved has not been found by police.

Mateo says his main complaint is with how the cases are handled by police. He says he believes more should be done to protect drivers and to catch those responsible for beating fares.

The NYPD says, "Every robbery and assault of a taxi driver is investigated by a precinct detective squad."

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission also sent a statement, saying, "The safety and well-being of professional drivers in New York City is paramount to us, and we work closely with the NYPD to assist in apprehending perpetrators that target our licensees. Drivers should dial 911 and use trouble lights if there is a fare dispute or at the first sign of trouble. Don't confront a fare-beater -- it is not worth your safety."

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