YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A convicted hustler tried to flee police at Kennedy Airport with a family of four Panamanian tourists still in his cab this afternoon, but their 17-year-old son grabbed the wheel and steered the vehicle into a guardrail.
Port Authority police tackled the crooked cabbie after he bailed out and tried to run.
Port Authority Police Officers Dante Castro-Recio and Robert Furey were working in plainclothes in Terminal 4 around 1:50 this afternoon when they spotted the parents and two sons getting into the black Lincoln Town Car in JFK’s blue lot, PAPD spokesman Al Della Fave told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
The officers, knowing 37-year-old driver Bhupinder Singh, of Ridgewood, Queens, as a “recidivist offender,” immediately tried to block his path.
“So he threw it in reverse and drove around them,” Della Fave said.
At that point, the older son, who was sitting in the front seat, grabbed the wheel, he said.
“He told the officers later that he realized what was happening when they tried to stop the car, so he just reacted,” Della Fave told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Singh bailed out of the car and began running, but Castro-Recio and Furey chased him down and tackled him near the Van Wyck, he said.
The parents were taken to Queens General Hospital, more shaken up than anything. Their sons were fine, Della Fave said.
Singh was still being processed at the airport at 5 p.m. on charges of reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, unlawful solicitation and criminal trespassing. Della Fave said he’s been arrested several times for driving without the necessary license and hosing customers, charging two to three times the legal fare.
As it turned out, “he never negogiated a price with them,” Della Fave said. “He asked them where they were going, they said Manhattan, and he started driving.
“Who knows what he would have tried charging these people? And they likely might not have known any better.”
Announcements are made at the airport in various languages:
“Welcome to JFK Airport, where America greets the world. …For your safety and convenience you should not accept transportation from anyone who approaches you inside or outside the terminal.”
The authority also posts signs and has staff in uniform wearing buttons asking people if they need a ride.
Still, PAPD police have fielded reports of promised rides to one borough that ended in another, with fares in the hundreds of dollars. Tourists have been charged from $400 to $800 simply for rides from one TERMINAL to another.
Many of the hundreds of scammers who Port Authority police catch every year are, like Singh, repeat offenders, Della Fave said.
Just a year ago, a JFK hustler who took a group of French tourists on a 7-mile high-speed police chase through Brooklyn and Queens was sentenced to a year in prison.
“We implore people to avoid these kinds of individuals,” he added.
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