Getting 'smart' to catch illegal cabs

Authorities are using surveillance cameras and computer databases to catch lawbreakers.

The Shanghai Transportation Commission and police are working together to use big-data to crack down on illegal cabs.

This includes matching data from surveillance cameras with computer databases.

In one recent case, a female passenger called the 12345 hotline on December 2 to complain her transport card had been swapped for another when she took a Dazhong taxi from Century Avenue to Liushan Road.

The day after the trip, she found her balance had gone to -1.6 yuan from 817 yuan (US$124.20).

But because she had not kept the receipt, law enforcement officers could not immediately trace the cab.

They contacted Putuo District police, who tracked the vehicle down using CCTV.

The officers put the plate number into the database of the law enforcement department and the taxi firm. It was a scrapped number and the cab was "cloned" — disguised as a legitimate cab and the driver had no taxi license.

By going through other complaints in the database and filtering surveillance videos, the taxi and the driver were tracked down.

The driver surnamed Huang, was often spotted around Zhangjiang Town in the Pudong New area.

The police arrested Huang on December 21 near his home. Police said Huang confessed that he usually drove the fake cab at night.

Police say they found a dozen public transport cards and a stash of cash at his home.

Huang will be detained for 10 days, but may face further penalties as investigations are continuing, law enforcement officers said.

The commission has issued a strict warning that they will track down all illegal vehicles and illegal taxis will not be tolerated.

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