What happened to what you lost in a taxi?
When you catch a cab, you put your trust in your driver -- that he'll get you to your destination and he'll do it safely.
But would you trust your driver to return your possessions if you forgot them in his taxi?
Some CTV viewers have complained to our station that items they left in a cab were never to be seen again -- no matter how hard they tried to reclaim them.
One viewer, Noelle Schroeder, said that she left some work gear, including laptops, in the trunk of a Yellow Cab. She called ten minutes later and was told the driver would be found and her stuff would be returned.
Then she got a call from the cab company saying there was nothing in the vehicle.
"Impossible," Schroeder told CTV News. "I take cabs almost every day and I won't be putting anything in the trunk anymore, that's for sure."
Newlyweds Kate and Peter Gibson lost a trunk full of wedding gifts last summer when the Yellow Cab Peter had taken from a pre-wedding dinner took off as soon as he left the car.
Stories like this come into our newsroom from time to time. And every time the driver denies any wrong doing.
We decided to put some randomly picked drivers to the test. CTV producer Steve Sxwithul'txw packed a bright red bag with some documents, forty dollars, a couple of brand new DVDs and a cell phone equipped with GPS that would allow us to track the bag's location.
It also had a hidden camera.
We sent our producer out to hail some cabs. The plan? To bring the bag along and leave it behind.
Our first driver was Barinder from Yellow Cab. He drove Steve across town and dropped him off, minus the bag.
The company called its driver, and Barinder does exactly what you would hope. We got our bag back, and looked for another cab to catch.
Our second driver, with Black Top, was Varinderjit. He was about to end his shift, so Steve laid the bag at his feet, paid the driver, and left.
When Varinderjit parked at the Black Top yard, Steve called for his bag. The company operator said they would look for it, and offered to put a call through to the dispatcher to find out who it was and call back.
Meanwhile, Varinderjit waited for 15 minutes until two other drivers got off shift. The three of them got in Varinderjit's personal vehicle and started heading south. We followed, while Steve picked up the phone again.
The company hadn't found the bag. But the GPS on the phone told us that the bag was following the exact same route as Varinderjit: down Granville Street to Oak Street and over the Alex Fraser Bridge, to Surrey.
When Steve phoned the company again, the operator said it was "highly unlikely" that a driver could have taken something home with him. "They usually turn everything in and that's the policy," the operator said. "No matter what they always turn the stuff in and I don't think he would have kept it himself."
After dropping off the other drivers, Varinderjit headed home. He opens the trunk -- and there it is, our red bag.
It took us just two tests and two hours to uncover a driver who decided he'd rather take our property home with him than turn it in.
For his part, Varinderjit said he was planning to bring it back to the office in the morning.
We showed this tape to the general manager of Black Top cabs, John Palis.
After viewing the tape, Palis said this was a "serious issue."
"We're going to have to bring him in," said Palis. "I'm going to have to discuss with my board of directors how far we're going to pursue this."
Varinderjit had clearly broken company policy and was suspended. John Palis says his driver should have brought the bag directly to the office.
In a letter to CTV a week after our test, Varinderjit's lawyer said his client didn't have time to drop the bag off at the office because one of the men he was car pooling with had to get back to Surrey quickly, as his pregnant wife was feeling ill.
The couple also signed statements in support of Varinderjit. Based on those letters, the company re-instated him.
The company confirmed that nobody from Black Top called Varinderjit that day to ask him about our missing bag. The dispatcher on shift apparently didn't have access to the staff phone list.
As for our bag, we did get it back, and everything was inside. But that didn't help Noelle Schroeder.
"I need to replace my things, and I just don't know how it's going to happen," she said. "It's not acceptable at all."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Rob Brown