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How to spot a renegade cabbie who authorities won’t hold accountable

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ST. LOUIS – Do not get into a cab if the driver won’t show you identification saying he’s licensed to give you a ride. It looks like this and is supposed to be clipped to cabbie’s shirt.

On Monday, Fox 2/KPLR 11 pressed renegade cabbie Mahad Abdi for his license. He would not show it to us. That’s because the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission says he doesn’t have one.

"The driver is just driving what you call a renegade taxi,” said commission lawyer Chuck Billings.

Billings said Abdi's license was revoked for not having proper insurance. The Fox Files also found Abdi had a long criminal record, with convictions for harassment and assault.

Billings said a cab driver cannot drive without a taxicab license.

“Even if you’re licensed and you don’t bring this to work that day, you can’t operate a taxicab,” he said. Billings said you should also look for a sticker like this, which you should see on a back window.

“A seal such as this, with a number on it. In fact, most of them, the license plates match this number,” Billings said. “That indicates you have a properly authorized driver and taxicab.”

Uber and Lyft rules are different, with those private companies doing their own background checks and giving customers assurances through smartphone apps. Abdi claimed he was still legal because he has an Illinois plate with the letters TX. We traced the plate to a UPS store in Belleville. The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office told us it’s illegal to register plates to a drop box. The office is now investigating.

We then checked with Belleville City Hall to see if Abdi obtained a taxi license there. A spokesperson said Belleville has no licensed taxis. It's in St. Louis where we saw Abdi driving. Billings said Taxi Commissioners have been citing him for it.

“He’s not authorized to drive any taxi in St. Louis City or St. Louis County,” he said.

The Taxi Cab Commission tracked down and ticketed Abdi three times for being a renegade cab but when he went to court, the violation was pleaded down to excessive vehicle noise.

Expect us to follow up with the courts on these plea deals.

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