Cab ride ferries alleged bank robber

Haitham Alawdi has a wife and a 6-year-old child in Yemen. He has been saving for a trip next week to visit his loved ones.

So when San Francisco police officers pulled over Alawdi’s cab, drew guns and arrested the taxi passenger Tuesday morning for an alleged bank robbery on Union Street, the loss of the $40 fare was devastating.

“This fare was going to make my day,” said Alawdi, a San Francisco resident who has driven a cab for the last four years.

At 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, Alawdi pulled in his National Cab up to the Wells Fargo on Union and Laguna streets, in the heart of the Cow Hollow neighborhood, with his passenger, described by Alawdi as an older white male who “just liked to listen to the radio.” The passenger jumped out and asked Alawdi to wait outside the bank, according to San Francisco police.

The suspect then used a toy gun to rob the bank of an undisclosed amount of money before returning to the cab, police Sgt. Neville Gittens said. Employees at the bank called police immediately, Gittens said.

The cab was pulled over in dramatic fashion five minutes later at the intersection of Sacramento and Gough streets, where the suspect was arrested.

Police identified the suspect as 51-year-old Christopher Reynolds, who does not live in The City.

Alawdi said he picked Reynolds up on Fourth Street near the Marriott Hotel, and after making a stop at a bank, Reynolds told him to drive to the Wells Fargo on Union.

The suspect was in the Wells Fargo bank for a brief moment before he returned to the cab and asked Alawdi to take him to the airport, the cab driver said.

“I can’t believe he robbed the bank. That’s crazy. It was like three minutes,” Alawdi said.

But with his taxi impounded for evidence and his $40 fare now sitting in the back of a police car, Alawdi did not give up on his fare.

He asked the suspect, “What about my fare?” But when the suspect said he would pay him, police waved off the transaction.

dsmith@examiner.com

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