MASON CITY, Iowa - Amy Hartman of Express Taxi was simply doing her job, responding to a call for a ride per dispatch between 5:30 and 6 Sunday morning.
"I went and picked up these young men, two of them, and took them to Manly."
One passenger was in the front passenger seat next to her, the other in the back. In the center console of her car was an envelope that contained $165.
"When I dropped them off, I stopped at Casey's, and I went to get my money envelope, and it was gone."
Hartman looked all over her cab, but no sign of the envelope, which contained $165. So, she went inside Casey's and contacted authorities.
The money is what she relies on.
"$120 of it was mine, and $45 was for Big O Tires to get my oil changed in my cab."
So what do drivers do to protect cash that may be carried on board?
Richard Paulsen of A-1 Taxi River City is contracted to serve railroad workers. He rejects the notion he should pack heat.
"The only thing I have is God, and if it's going to happen to me, it's going to happen. I pray that it doesn't. We as taxi drivers should not carry weapons on us because they could probably be used against us as well."
He does suggest cab companies add cameras.
"When something like that happens, they can be reviewed by the police department and catch these crooks."
Amy has a message for those who swiped her money.
"Crime doesn't pay. Give the money back. That's my livelihood that you took. That's my bill money. I got bills to pay just like their parents do. I'm not angry with them, I'm just upset that they would do something like that."
Despite the incident, she's not quitting her gig.
"We're the only cab service in town. We have great customers. We never had a problem with any of them, until these two young men."
In terms of adding cameras to their cabs, Express Taxi says there will be an employee meeting about the issue soon.
The Manly Police Department was first contacted, with the case then being turned over to Worth County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Dan Fank says a suspect has been identified, though no arrests have been made yet, and the department is planning on pressing charges.
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