Executive Cabs driver foils hijack bid
Ditches car, plunges into trench By Kim Lucas
Stabroek News
June 19, 2002

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A driver from Executive Cabs taxi service was forced to ditch his vehicle on Monday night and plunge into a trench in `A' Field Sophia after a hijack attempt. However, the three bandits made off with the company's $150,000 radio set, which they used later that night to contact Managing Director of the service, Paul Giddings, and demand money.

Recounting the incident yesterday, the driver, 37-year-old Laurel Haynes, told Stabroek News that at about 10 pm on Monday, he was in the vicinity of Stabroek Market, when a tall, neatly-dressed man hired the car to go to Sophia. Haynes radioed in the drop, but Giddings had reservations.

"I listened to the conversation and, at that point in time, I felt something strange was going on... but I did not want to intervene to tell the driver not to take the customer into Sophia, because if it was an innocent customer, I would feel bad doing so. But within half an hour, we got the message that the car was held up," Giddings told this newspaper.

Haynes explained that when he took his passenger to the squatting area, the man claimed to have been going to the third street. "I keep driving and when I meet the third corner, I say, `Guy, this is the third corner, where you going?' He say, `Drive!' that he looking for a girl name Karen. So I keep going, but when I meet a culvert, I see two men come out from behind [something] and he tell me stop so that he could ask for Karen," the driver recalled. Haynes, who was driving slowly at the time, said one of the two men started approaching his side of the car, so he kept the car "rolling." That made his `passenger' angry. "You ain't hear ah say stop this f...ing car," the decent-looking passenger burst out. At the same time, the taxi-driver said, he noticed the men "go to waist" and he caught a glimpse of the butt of a gun. Haynes said that was his cue. He needed no prompting. He stepped on the accelerator, swung the car wheel to the left and plunged out of the vehicle's window, to the right. He landed on the road, damaging his knee, but that didn't slow him down. He dove head-first into "de big, stink trench."

Stressing the stench of the trench, the father of one said he remained in the water for about 15 minutes and noticed the men ransacking car. When another vehicle approached, the trio ran off, but returned before the taxi-driver could pull himself from the water. This time, they reportedly tried to drive the car, but abandoned the effort after they got it stuck deeper in the ditch. "If they did reverse, they woulda get the car out, but they went forward...more in the ditch [and] after a while, they left it and run away."

It was some time around 10:30 pm that Haynes managed to flag down another taxi. He asked the driver to call into the taxi service's base and explain what had happened, so that that base could call the Executive Cabs base. Not long after, a taxi from another service passed, and Haynes begged the same favour. Giddings told this newspaper that he got the first message at about 10:30 pm, that Car Six was "stuck" in Sophia. "The second message I received was about 22:45 hrs from Sheriff Taxi, which stated that my vehicle was hijacked by some gunmen. Roughly at about 23:00 hrs, I proceeded to Prashad Nagar [Police] Outpost and made a report," Giddings stated.

But the four policemen manning the outpost reportedly told the businessman that they were not venturing into the Sophia area at that hour of the night. According to Giddings, he went to the outpost, identified himself and explained what had happened. By that time, he'd already had two vehicles in the squatting area, since a second driver was sent to Haynes' rescue.

"I said I need some backup because I want to go and get my vehicle. They said at this time of the night, they not going," Giddings recounted. He, nonetheless, commended members of the Guyana Police Force for the work they are doing, despite the limited resources.

Then Giddings got a further shock. The men, using the stolen radio set from the ditched taxi, contacted him and asked for a hefty sum. "Last night, we were talking to them. They wanted (money)... they said to tell the driver, `We're gonna get him' [and] that they want the man who running things," the businessman stated. As a result, Giddings said the service has since changed its frequency.

He said Haynes was one of his good drivers. Haynes, whose leg was injured during the escape bid, had this to say: "Dem can't frighten me... if de boss want me out again tomorrow, I going." And he has no qualms about returning to areas like Sophia.

The car, HA 9903, has not been damaged. It was released yesterday. Giddings said he returned to Sophia yesterday and was able to locate the car keys, which could not have been found the night before. The businessman said Monday's attack was the first such incident since he started the service last year September.

Recently, a number of cars, especially taxis, have been hijacked and later used as the getaway vehicles in robberies. Just last Friday, another car, HA 9655, was hired from the Stabroek Park and later hijacked in Lamaha Gardens. That car turned up last Sunday morning in a Vlissengen Road trench with a quantity of arms and ammunition, including a machine-gun. Two taxi-drivers were later arrested.