Cabbie caught using sidewalk as bathroom

A Freedom Taxi Association cab driver about to use a street as his bathroom.
A Freedom Taxi Association cab driver about to use a street as his bathroom.
Posted: July 17, 2012

A cabbie squatted outside his taxi and defecated onto the street in Southwest Center City Friday morning, and a homeowner who caught the incident on camera says all sorts of things have happened since β€” except what he's been asking for since he called the company and posted the surveillance footage on YouTube.

"The only thing I've been asking since Friday is, β€˜Can somebody come clean this up?'" said Thomas Van Der Grift, who owns a rowhouse on Bainbridge Street near 18th.

The pavement near his house was still spotted with brown smudges Monday evening. Freedom Taxi dispatched a cleaning crew β€” comprised of three men in a nondescript pickup truck β€” to the neighborhood Monday afternoon. The cameras recorded as one of them poured liquid onto a thatch of weeds while the other two stood by eating ice cream.

The fecal fracas began when Van Der Grift returned home from grocery shopping Friday morning and noticed a large pile of poo sunbathing on the pavement near his house.

"It looked too large to be a dog or animal," he said. Van Der Grift checked the surveillance footage and at 5:08 a.m. a cab with "Freedom Taxi" printed on it was recorded pulling up and parking. The cameras recorded the driver getting out of his cab and doing a quick spin to see if anyone was watching. Next, he squatted beside the driver's side of the cab, stood up and drove off.

Disgusting as it is, Bill Schmid, deputy director of enforcement at the PPA Taxicab and Limousine Division, said this incident isn't the first of its kind.

A Freedom Taxi representative who did not want to be named, said the cabbie, whose identity has not been released, was fired once he was identified. The PPA Taxicab and Limousine Division is also looking into the incident.

"His license has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation," said Marty O'Rourke, a PPA spokesman, "This behavior is totally outrageous and totally unacceptable."

Schmid said the cabbie could face a fine between $350 and $1,000.

"I didn't want him fired," Van Der Grift said. "This is all happening to him, but what about the company? Have we really regressed to a point in society where this is OK?"

Van Der Grift and his partner have lived in the neighborhood for four and a half years and said the incident has left them considering whether they should move out of the city.

"I can deal with the noise, I can deal with the city," he said, "But I cannot deal with you sh---ing on my sidewalk."

Contact Phillip Lucas at 215-854-5914, lucasp@phillynews.com, or follow @UnPhiltered on Twitter. Read his blog at www.phillyconfidential.com.

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