City: Salvaged cabs taken out of service

April 9, 2010 3:06:11 PM PDT
Hundreds of dangerous cabs were ordered off of Chicago streets Friday, according to officials. The city's consumer protection department made that announcement after discovering the 339 taxis, which represent about 5-percent of those on the street, were rebuilt after being severely damaged.

Authorities say about 80-percent of the vehicles in question were Crown Vics, some of which were once used as police squad cars. City officials said they don't know who altered or washed the vehicle titles by failing to disclose their true history. They are not accusing anyone of any wrongdoing -- yet.

"It's a little scary," said Sam Shah, after hearing that the city took the salvaged or rebuilt cabs- which have been illegal in Chicago since 2005- off the street.

The city's department of business affairs and licensing yanked the medallions of those 339 taxicabs as a part of an investigation that began in October of last year. The probe was sparked when one of the city's 11 taxicab inspectors noticed the paint job on a cab didn't have the proper bonding and the vehicle appeared in poor condition for its year and mileage during a mandatory, twice-a-year visual and mechanical inspection. A title history search revealed the cab had a salvaged and rebuilt title although the title submitted to the city didn't indicate it.

"The majority of the titles we're seeing appear to have been washed through Indiana," said Commissioner Norma Reyes, Chgo. Dept. of Business Affairs and Licensing.

Several cab companies had medallions revoked:

  • 108 at Chicago Elite Cab Corporation
  • 55 at Medallion Leasing and Management
  • 52 at Globe Taxi
  • 42 at Royal 3 CCC
  • 9 at Chicago Medallion Management Corporation
  • While management refused to comment, some drivers spoke with ABC7.

    "When I first started there brand new cabs, then started using police cars and cars from New York and so on," said Sam Skweyaiisuo, taxicab driver.

    All of the companies involved must now produce the relevant documents and bills of sale for the respective vehicles.

    "When I buy my cab, the title was clean, but sometimes dealers don't tell the truth," said Seridne Dia, taxicab driver.

    All the cars have been labeled salvaged because they were once so severely damaged repair costs almost equaled the vehicle's value. While salvaged cabs are illegal, it is not illegal for the average motorists to buy and drive them.

    So far, the city has pulled a majority of illegal cabs off the street and said the rest of them will be pulled by Friday evening.