A taxi driver drove 239km from Taipei City to Nantou County before he realized his passenger was not in the back, and was later accused of theft.
According to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, a businessman surnamed Kao (高), flagged down the taxi driver, Liu Fu-lien (劉福廉), in Taipei’s Wenshan District (文山) at 1am sometime in April, saying that he wanted to go to Shueili Township (水里) in Nantou County.
Liu said Kao, who had been drinking, paid him NT$2,000 (US$66) in advance and began putting his bags in the trunk. These included a gift-wrapped toy racecar in a box, a leather bag, 1kg of shark fins, 4kg of scallops, 10kg each of beef shank and brisket and 1 bag of sliced deer antler.
Kao got in the car, but then remembering he had left something, went back into his home to get the item. When he returned the taxi had driven off with all his valuables
On being interviewed by police, Liu said he was innocent.
“I heard the door close and thought that the drunken passenger had got in, so I drove to Shueili and only turned round to ask him where he wanted to be dropped off when we got there,” Liu said, adding that it was only then that he realized the passenger was missing.
Liu said he immediately drove back to Taipei and searched for Kao in the area where he picked him up along Wanfang Road.
“I wanted to explain to him that I didn’t take his things and return the advance payment,” Liu said, adding that by that time Kao had already called the police.
The prosecutors’ office asked Liu how he did not notice he had no passenger all the way from Taipei to Nantou.
“I respect my passenger’s privacy and didn’t look in the rearview mirror. Besides, I thought he was drunk and was lying down in the backseat, which was why I didn’t see him,” Liu said.
To check Liu’s story, the prosecutors examined data from the dashboard camera, finding that he did drive to Nantou County’s Shueili Road Sec 1 before turning back, stopping for gas near Taichung Industrial Park and New Taipei City’s (新北市) Tucheng District (土城).
According to mapping software calculations, the trip was 478km in length.
The prosecutors’ office yesterday closed the case, finding Liu not guilty of theft, citing evidence from the dashboard camera.
The office said that Liu was innocent because he had left all of Kao’s items with the police and Kao had since reclaimed his belongings.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer