Increase in robberies involving unlicensed minicabs
Drunken victim is taken to a cash machine, pin code is picked out, and card
This spring the Helsinki police have been particularly busy tackling scams involving unlicensed taxis or minicabs. In a short period of time close to ten victims have been robbed after a minicab ride.
"This is an annual occurrence. Only this spring there's been a significant rise in the number of such incidents", explains Inspector Juha Vuorisalo of the Helsinki Police Department.
According to Vuorisalo, a typical scenario starts in the early hours of the morning from downtown Helsinki, where an unsuspecting and heavily intoxicated victim is offered a taxi ride in an unmarked minicab by two men of foreign background.
At some point during the taxi ride, a cash machine or ATM is visited, where the passenger's PIN-number is picked up by one of the cabmen.
Later on during the ride the victim's wallet is snatched, and his bank account is subsequently emptied.
"These cases are difficult to solve as the victims rarely remember the make or the licence number of the car that picked them up", Vuorisalo establishes.
In most cases the victim is blissfully unaware that he is being robbed. But sometimes the situation can also turn more threatening.
Three weeks ago an 18-year-old secondary school graduate tried to hail a taxi, while his friend went to McDonald's to get something to eat.
A car quickly stopped next to him, and as soon as the youngster got in, the driver, who looked to be of either Indian or Pakistani origin, drove off. The driver ignored the passenger's request that they should wait for his friend.
"When I realised the car didn't have a taximeter I got worried. Then the driver said he would stop at a cash machine and that I should empty my bank account and give him the money as well as my mobile phone", the 18-year-old recalls.
"I pretended to consent but once he stopped the car I took off."
"The driver ran after me for a block or so, but finally gave up."