Phone Thief Caught on SF Taxi Dash Camera

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 05, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An intrepid phone thief likely thought he got away with his crime - except he failed to take into account the recently-installed taxi dash cameras, outfitted on numerous San Francisco cabs that captured the entire event on film.

It all happened at around 7 p.m. last month. A woman was walking through the Russian Hill neighborhood in San Francisco, and was chatting on the phone.

That’s when a robber, identified as Brandon West, moved in. West ripped the phone from the woman’s hands and then ran away, according to the Huffington Post. A daring crime? Maybe. An ill-conceived plan? Definitely.

A cab driver who was parked on the corner where the incident occurred had actually caught the entire incident on tape. The cab driver picked up the woman and then followed the suspect, who had fled on foot. The driver then called the police with the location of the robber, who was promptly arrested, reports the Huffington Post.

The taxi dash cameras have been implemented on more and more San Francisco cabs. The cameras capture a 180-degree video, mounted on the dashboard, reports CNET.

While some may decry the video recordings as a possible invasion of privacy, keep in mind that the cameras are likely only recording things that are happening on public streets. If the dash cameras were recording inside people's homes that would be a whole other matter entirely.

The dash camera did prove useful, however, as the robber has since been charged with second-degree robbery, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Robbery, unlike burglary, usually involves the theft or larceny that is accompanied by the use of force or fear. In this scenario, the cell phone thief used force when he nabbed the phone since he jerked it out of the victim's hands. Robbery usually occurs when the person is present at the time of the theft.

And, unluckily for West, also present at the time of the theft was the cab - with taxi dash camera installed.

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