Pocatello police are investigating why someone apparently intentionally set fire on Saturday night to a taxi cab that was stolen roughly a month earlier and left vandalized along a dirt road above Monte Vista Drive.
Capt. Ron Knapp said the report of a burning Yellow Cab came in at 7:28 p.m. Officers arrived at the scene — near the water tower above Monte Vista — to find the car fully engulfed.
Knapp said the cab, which was a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria, had been left by the tower since Dec. 11. He said an arson investigator was also called to the scene.
The cab’s owner, Charley Potter, said he has a suspicion about who may have committed the crime and is in the processing of working out details of a reward for information that results in an arrest. He declined to offer more details about his suspicions until more evidence is available.
Potter said whoever stole the car had a key, which was left jammed in the ignition.
“Somebody stole the car. They wrecked it on the way up there. They drove up there and ran it off the road and took a baseball bat and broke mirrors and glass and headlights,” Potter said. “They stole the battery and they stole the radio.”
Potter said he’s also had some of his personal tools and equipment stolen recently, and he believes the car was set on fire because the perpetrator knew he intended to salvage some of the parts from it. Potter said the cab hadn’t been moved because he was waiting for a local recycling business to remove it.
Potter said the cab was uninsured and had a value of less than $2,000, due to its high mileage.
Yellow Cab closed in January 2017, when Potter restructured it into a transportation network company, similar to Uber. Potter explained Yellow Cab was having a hard time competing with the transportation network companies because many drivers were operating without having liability insurance on their passengers, placing taxi companies at a competitive disadvantage.
In April, Potter opened a transportation network company called Izaic but had trouble finding enough labor to keep it running due to certain changes in laws. He plans to reopen Izaic to manage a car lot in Pocatello, which he said should open in February at a location on Aurthur Avenue. The lot will sell new and used cars and will also lease cars to transportation network company drivers.
Potter also intends to hire drivers to work by the hour transporting clients. He has big plans to soon unveil new electronic signs that will allow drivers to post the name of the transportation network company for which they happen to be driving at any given moment. The signs will allow them to drive for multiple companies.
Potter also plans to subsidize the cost of his fares with video advertising, both inside and outside of his cabs. He said the ads will be customized based on client information and the area of town through which they’re driving.