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Cable cars may go cashless after second conductor arrested for allegedly stealing fares

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A cable car operator is accused of pocketing some of the cash from passengers fares, according to local law enforcement. (Courtesy photo)
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The San Francisco Police Department arrested a second cable car operator in as many weeks for allegedly stealing cash fares.

Cable car operator David Reyes was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of pocketing cash fare payments, according to law enforcement officials.

On April 19, police arrested cable car operator Albert Williams, 61, of Napa County, for allegedly stealing what was then an unknown sum of money by pocketing cash fare payments.

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SEE RELATED: Cable car operator pleads not guilty to allegedly pocketing cash fares

In the wake of multiple thefts of cable car conductors by the police, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced it may do away with cash fares on cable cars altogether.

Last week, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin told reporters the SFMTA will “immediately enhance” management and oversight of cash fare transactions and will explore long-term options, which may include eventually removing cash as an on-board payment option for the entire cable car system.

Reyes, who will be charged by the District Attorney’s Office with felony embezzlement, was surveilled by police for the past two months and was seen pocketing around $450. His charges extend as far back as January 2015, as records show he consistently turned in lower amounts of cash than other operators.

Williams, who was arrested last week, was charged with felony misappropriation of public money and embezzlement.

Since that arrest a search of Williams’ home on April 20 revealed $32,000 in cash, which was found in a safe, as well as packed luggage.

“It is our understanding that these were the only two operators under investigation,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said. “The vast majority of the men and women of the Cable Car Division are hard-working, honest and exceptional at what they do.”

The SFPD Muni Task Force found that during his shifts, Williams used “various schemes” that allowed him to pocket hundreds of dollars in cash a month from cable car riders.

Each conductor is supposed to hand out a fare receipt from the top of their ticket book, and at the end of the night, turn it in. The SFMTA calculates the cash turned in by operators against the number of receipts missing from the top of the book.

Williams and Reyes’ scheme involved not handing out fare receipts, which would reveal no record of a sale, according to law enforcement officials.

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