A woman with a limp who asked to be taken to a Philadelphia casino turned from taxi passenger to cabbie overnight in what investigators call "a bizarre story."
"It's a pretty unusual job to steal a cab and then start picking up passengers like you’re a cab driver," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. "I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before, it's definitely a bizarre story."
A Freedom Taxi driver picked up 65-year-old Betty Thomas at her home on E Maryland Street in Germantown around 10:30 p.m. and began to take her to SugarHouse Casino along the Delaware River.
En route, Thomas asked to be stop for water at a gas station at Broad Street and Hunting Park Avenue in the Hunting Park neighborhood, Small said.
Surveillance video shows the duo then spending about 90 minutes at the Sunoco station including the driver helping the slow-moving woman around the store.
As the woman got out, the driver also got out to assist since he noticed a limp in Thomas' step when he picked her up, video shows. The driver helps the woman into the store where they spend about 20 minutes.
"The cabdriver was nice enough to help her out," Small said.
The duo then spends about an hour in the cab. Eventually Thomas and driver begin to argue -- police say over a fare dispute -- and Thomas slams her hands on the hood of the car, video shows.
"At some point the female was able to jump into the driver seat of the cab and take off, stealing the cab," Small said.
Thomas briefly drove back to the Sunoco before taking off for good around midnight.
About 30 minutes later, 25th District officers spotted the cab just outside their headquarters along Whitaker Avenue in Hunting Park. When police stopped the car they found a 23-year-old woman and her 10-month-old daughter in the back seat -- the passenger had no idea it was a stolen cab, investigators said.
The suspected car thief had picked up the 23-year-old and her baby as a fare a few blocks from where the faux cabbie stole the taxi.
"She not only stole the cab but was then acting as a cabdriver and picking up passengers," Small said.
The cabbie later identified his cab and the fare-turned-driver, Small said.
A judge arraigned Thomas of theft and terroristic threats charges late Thursday night and released her on her own recognizance, according to court records.
No one was hurt.