ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A taxi driver got more than a fare early Thursday morning when he picked up a woman in Albuquerque’s North Valley.
The woman hit him over the head with a cast iron pan and stole his cab, police said. Then she picked up a passenger.
Yellow Cab driver Niyi Bankole told police he picked up the woman, 34-year-old Antoinette Padilla, near Osuna and Edith around midnight, and she asked to go to Menaul and Tramway. She said a friend would pay him once they got there, but she didn’t know the address of where she was going and appeared to be stalling once they got to the area, Bankole said.
He said Padilla started hitting him on the back of the head with a heavy object. He parked the cab on Madre Drive NE and ran to call for help, and she jumped in the driver’s seat and sped off.
Police used GPS technology to track a tablet mounted in the cab to the intersection of Menaul and Georgene, but didn’t find the cab – instead, they found the tablet smashed in the middle of the road.
Officers spotted the stolen cab about a block away, but Padilla sped away. Police followed her until she pulled into a nearby driveway on the 12200 block of Towner NE.
“Antoinette jumped out of the vehicle and ran toward the back yard,” police spokesman Tanner Tixier said.
Another woman who was in cab also ran. Officers caught her in the front yard.
That woman, Barbara Cotinola, 53, told police she was walking near Menaul and Chelwood Park NE when a cab pulled up. The driver, Padilla, asked her if she wanted a ride.
Cotinola told Padilla she didn’t have money to pay the fare, but Padilla said she didn’t need to pay. Cotinola told officers she didn’t know Padilla, but agreed to get in.
Cotinola then asked Padilla if the vehicle was stolen but Padilla didn’t respond, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.
Padilla was arrested and charged with armed robbery and tampering with evidence. Cotinola was also arrested for a misdemeanor warrant, but wasn’t charged in connection to the carjacking.
“The driver was not seriously injured and the cab was returned to the company,” Tixier said.