Smile, criminals, you’ll be on cab camera

First Posted: 3:53 pm - June 25th, 2015 Updated: 3:53 pm - June 25th, 2015.

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First Posted: 7/9/2013

WILKES-BARRE — Thieves might want to think twice about robbing a taxi driver in the city in the future.

Burgit’s City Taxi owner Robbie Burgit said Tuesday he plans to install security cameras in all 20 of his company’s cabs that will be on the road as of the end of the year.

“You’ve got to protect the people. I can’t make a profit and ignore the health and welfare of my employees. I feel I have an obligation,” Burgit said Tuesday at his South Main Street office, explaining why he plans to shell out about $17,000 to equip every cab with a camera.

“To me, it’s an investment, and it’s a worthwhile one,” he said.

Burgit has seen his cabbies robbed four times in a 42-day span. “That’s enough for me. Steps have to be taken. It’s becoming too frequent and it’s becoming too bothersome. No one’s been hurt yet, and I’m not going to wait for that to happen. I’m taking a proactive approach,” he said.

Burgit wants would-be robbers to know that the cameras, which will be mounted on the cabs’ windshields near the rear-view mirrors, will cover a 310-degree view, catching video both outside and in front of the cabs as well as inside. Images will be transmitted via satellite to a security firm, where they will be stored if and until they are needed for identification of a suspect or to settle disputed facts in a crash.

Privacy issues

Burgit said passengers need not worry about the cameras being used to invade their privacy. First of all, people have no expectation of privacy when using public transportation, he said.

But he also said no one will be viewing the recordings unless a criminal act or an accident or crash with circumstances in dispute took place. And no audio will be recorded.

“All it’s there for is a safety factor in the operation of this business, for our drivers and our customers,” Burgit said.

He said he recognizes his company is “a staple in the community,” especially now that Posten Taxi closed in June, with owner John Katorkas citing a slow economy. Burgit said the security cameras are there to protect passengers as well as his drivers.

“We have uniformed drivers trained to be polite and courteous. We’re punctual. I do everything I can to present a first-class service and do the best we can do for the citizens, just because I want to. It’s their revenue and their patronage that’s appreciated,” Burgit said.

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