By Lauren Leamanczyk, WBZ-TV

CHELSEA (CBS) – Taxi drivers are being targeted by armed robbers. Now, after a rash last week, police are taking extra steps to keep them safe.

There were at least four armed robberies last week and possibly one more. In each case drivers were threatened with knives or guns.

“It’s been one, two, sometimes a third person,” says Captain Keith Houghton of the Chelsea Police Department. “Basically, they flag the taxi down. They get it to stop for some reason and that’s when the robbery occurs.”

Most of the victims have been drivers for Ventura Taxi based in Chelsea.

“They put the knife over here,” said Francisco Pineda, gesturing to his neck. “Told me give me all your money and don’t move.”

Francisco Pineda was robbed at knifepoint.

Others had guns pulled on them.

The robberies took place in Chelsea, East Boston and Winthop, with another suspected in Revere. But the victims have been drivers from Chelsea.

Unlike Boston, Chelsea doesn’t require taxis to have glass partitions separating the driver from passengers in the back seat.

After his drivers were victimized last week, Jose Ventura spent thousands of dollars to install those barriers in each of his taxis.

Police in Chelsea say that was a smart move. They did extra patrols in the late night and early morning hours to warn cab drivers about the risk.

“Working with Boston who is doing the same thing, if we saw a fare, administrative stop,” said Houghton. “Just let them know what’s going on. So far, hopefully it’s been successful getting the word out.”

Police are still looking for suspects. They do not know if each of the robberies is linked.


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