Driver Of Stolen Taxi Caught After High-Speed Chase

Updated 1/27/11 12:48 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – It was a long police chase that might have come from a Hollywood movie but it happened right here in Chicago and the north suburbs. And it had early rising viewers glued to their TV screens, watching it all in amazement.

It began at a Subway sandwich shop in Des Plaines before dawn when a passenger asked his taxi driver to stop and wait.

Surveillance video shows the passenger rushing behind the counter to get at the cash drawer, but clerk Jose Santiago battled fiercely with the suspect. At one point, Santiago grabs a bread knife and goes after the attacker with it again and again.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

Santiago’s attitude, he said, was, “You pushed the door, you pushed me. So yes,” he said, he started fighting.

“It was looking rough for Jose. He was getting beat pretty good, but he grabbed a knife and came at the guy and then beat him in the head with a chair and he just owned this guy,” Subway manager Tim Ryan told CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli.

The video shows the suspect racing outside where witnesses said he battled his cab driver, took the cabbie’s keys, and drove off.

As Kris Habermehl reported from Chopper 2 HD, the driver of Rosemont Elite taxi No. 133 was carjacked around 6 a.m. in Des Plaines.

Officials at Rosemont Elite Taxi said the driver, Eleftheria Papainonnou was shaken up, but not injured.

“He’s been here with us for a long time. He’s in his 60s, so he’s a little shaken about this,” manager Alice Catalano said. Papainonnou’s son is a Chicago police officer.

The suspect stole the cab, then weaved through Lincolnwood, Skokie, Morton Grove, Niles, Evanston and Wilmette, and even right through the Northwestern University campus. The suspect even drove on sidewalks on Northwestern’s Evanston campus as he tried to elude the police.

Eyewitness Tyrone Randolph told CBS 2’s Susanna Song that, “I heard the alarms coming down from the street and I came down and … seen cars fly past at high speeds.”

The chase ended when the cab was clipped by a school bus in the Rogers Park neighborhood, and police caught the suspect as he tried to flee on foot.

Police began chasing the minivan in Morton Grove. Habermehl caught up with the taxi on southbound Crawford Avenue at Oakton Street around 6:15 a.m.

The taxi first weaved around several major thoroughfares in Lincolnwood, Skokie, Niles and Morton Grove.

Police chased the cab at speeds of about 80 mph down Crawford Avenue, then down Touhy Avenue through Skokie and into Niles.

The single Morton Grove squad car pursued the suspect north onto Niles Center Road, west on Howard Street, and north on Gross Point Road, before finally giving up the chase for safety reasons as the taxi headed north on Gross Point Road and east on Dempster Street.

Once police stopped the pursuit, the taxi began stopping at red lights, but continued to weave aimlessly down several north suburban roadways.

The taxi then headed into Evanston on eastbound Dempster Street, and made it all the way to Sheridan Road near Lake Michigan.

The cab headed north on Sheridan Road into Wilmette, and was pursued by Evanston police beginning at Chicago Avenue and Dempster Street. But when Evanston police turned their roof lights on, the taxi driver began driving erratically, and police backed off.

After that, the taxi was headed south on Green Bay Road in Wilmette, and ended up within the campus of Northwestern University back in Evanston, maneuvering along sidewalks and down access road before returning to Sheridan Road.

Finally, the driver headed into the city of Chicago, weaving down Touhy and Estes avenues in the Rogers Park neighborhood and ending up on Clark Street.

Chicago Police quickly resumed their chase, and the taxi picked up speed until it was clipped by a school bus at Clark Street and Columbia Avenue near the Rogers Park District police station.

The car thief bailed out and tried to escape on foot, but kept slipping in the snow and ice. Police officers with guns drawn quickly tackled and apprehended the suspect.

He likely will face multiple charges and traffic citations.

Only the school bus driver was on board the bus at the time. He was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston with minor injuries.

Debra Johnson, a representative for Lake Shore Schools, said the bus driver was on his way to pick up students at the time.

CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl, Susanna Song and Mike Puccinelli and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • joey

    CPD put a stop to this guys joy ride. way to go boys!

  • Jordan

    Nothing better then seeing that guy face plant on live t.v.

  • nana

    WTG to the Helicopters that followed this nut the whole time. The three Helicopters need to get some kind of thanks. I WTG Helicopters for keeping up with the cab. Things could of been worst without your help.
    Evanston police backed off due to the busy traffic on Dempster and I thank them for that also. Happy ending

  • yancey

    Thank the school bus (and light pole) for bringing this chase to an end. I wonder what the cops would have done if the stolen taxi continued on Clark St. towards busy Lincoln Park or downtown.

  • Tweets that mention Stolen Taxi Leads Police On High-Speed Chase « CBS Chicago --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew Fitt and CBS Chicago, taxinieuws. taxinieuws said: #taxi Taxi Leads Police On High-Speed Chase: Early morning commuters in several northern suburbs were disrupted … […]

  • Alice

    Thank goodness this guy was caught who car-jacked this taxi and that the Rosemont Elite Taxi Cab Driver is ok. I am a customer of Rosemont Elite Taxi and they are all so courteous and customer service oriented, its a shame this happened to them.

  • Dan

    Chopper guys save your footage-you might wind up on that tv show “wildest police chases” or whatever it’s called

  • Jim

    Verry happy no one was hurt. Driver made the mistake of going into Chicago.. Good job CPD!

  • pat f

    There is nothing police hate more than a car chase. Good work officers! But why is the name Kris Habermehl so familiar ?

    • yc

      Because you probably heard Kris do traffic on the 8’s on WBBM Newsradio 780AM.

  • Gerard Sison

    This guy drove through 6 suburbs at speeds of up to 80 mph. Thankfully, he didn’t run over any of our children. I believe the police should have rammed him off of the road sooner, especially when he drove in front of Skokie’s new police dept. If I had been out sooner, I would have disabled him with my Land Rover. 3 cheers to the bus driver.

  • Sandy

    Cudos to the Officer who took down that idiot!!!!!!! CPD comes through again!! A good ending to what could have been a tragic incident. Thank God! I guess I raised my son to be a good Officer!!

    • Jan

      Way to go CPD. Darn right you raised a good son. I’m proud of my nephew!!! Watching this from Branson, MO……. Good job to Jose from Subway. More people need to stand up to these IDIOTS!!!

  • Annie

    So glad this incident without anyone hurt or dead. The officer is brave and a hero in my eyes! WAY TO GO CPD!!

  • Pro Men/Women in Blue

    The CPD shut it down in less than 5 minutes! They don’t play. Go men in blue! HOORAH!

  • Pro Police

    Have you thanked your local police officer today? I don’t think they get enough praise. Just think, when you are sleeping tonight, they will be working, at keeping you and your family safe, while you are awake, and while you are asleep.

    In times of trouble, there are three names you will always call on: 1) God, 2) the Police, 3) the Fire Station. And they will be there, 24/7.

    Join your local Citizen’s Police Academy or CERT class to see what these great defenders of your rights do. Go CPD!

  • Channel 2s Great Coverage-Thanks!

    The Channel 2 News Chopper was right on things, while channel 5, 7, 9 and Fox News were sleepin!


  • ICOP189

    Great job to the guys in 024! a face plant and a boot was exactly what he needed. too bad he didnt head down toward juneway and drive into the lake lol

  • ICOP189

    if CPD was called in it would have been 016th district (next to niles). good luck. it took them half hour to respond to a officer needs assistance call i put in one night. at least the tact guys arent that bad there, but a beat guy… good luck. 16 should be rotated 3 times a year to 11. show them what policing is really about.

  • mee

    make the screen stop refreshing 1/2 way through the chase. i’ve had to watch it over and over.

    • yc

      Yeah, the screen refreshes are annoying. They need to fix the site. Only the headlines and weather on top should be refreshed, not the WHOLE page. Plus, sometimes I hear audio from 2 different videos playing at the same time.

  • Jean

    What about the bus driver? He deserves some recognition.

    • Sharon

      No way! For what? The bus driver had no idea what was happening.

  • NUPD chases after rogue taxi thief » North by Northwestern

    […] CBS Chicago reports that the joyride began after the suspect attempted to rob a Subway sandwich joint in Des Plains. The cashier fought him off with a bread knife, at which point the suspect took the keys from the cab driver waiting outside and zipped away. […]

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