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Police looking for man in Martinsburg tax theft

August 19, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A taxi in Martinsburg was stolen early Thursday after a man asked for a ride and then held a knife to the driver's throat, demanding he stop the car, police and the taxi company's owner said.

The cab, which belongs to Martinsburg-based McCain Taxi, was stolen Thursday at 1:43 a.m., police said.

McCain Taxi owner Harley McCain said the passenger called three times, asking to be picked up at a small park at the intersection of Martin Street and Tuskegee Drive.

After the passenger got into the car, he put his arms around the driver's chest and held a kitchen knife to his throat, McCain said.

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"He didn't say anything about money," but ordered the driver to stop, McCain said. "Somehow, the driver got the knife away from him and threw it out the window."

The passenger said he had a gun, but never showed one, McCain said.

Near Cumberland Valley Place, a narrow street parallel to Winchester Avenue, the driver was able to get out of the car, which the passenger took, investigators with the Martinsburg Police Department said.

The driver, who was not injured, first called his company's dispatcher, who immediately called police, McCain said.

The empty cab was found minutes later behind an abandoned grocery store off Raleigh Street, police said.

McCain said police were on the case "like syrup on pancakes."

"The cab was back on the road very quickly thanks to the Martinsburg police. They did a terrific job," McCain said. "I'm entirely satisfied with how the situation was handled."

Only a few dollars were taken, added McCain, who said the robbery was the first time one of his drivers has been threatened. In the past, robbers have grabbed money, but never threatened to hurt a driver, he said.

An arrest warrant was issued charging David Lee "Sneeze" Ferguson, 52, with aggravated robbery. Ferguson has no fixed address, police said.

Police were asking for the public's help in finding Ferguson. Anyone with information about the robbery or Ferguson's whereabouts may call the Martinsburg Police Department at 304-264-2100.

McCain said he hopes the incident shows would-be robbers that police will not tolerate such violence.

"They'll think a second before they try it," McCain said.

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