Police fear specialist garages have been set up to rig taxi meters after cases of fare-fixing more than doubled last year. Traffic intelligence units say garages - mainly in the Kowloon City area - are developing sophisticated methods to overcharge. Traffic Chief Superintendent Cheung Chi-sum yesterday said taxi-meter offences jumped from 739 to 1,533 in 1996, a rise of 107 per cent. Overcharging schemes discovered by police last year included cables connected to the brake pedal that pushed up the metre price every time the vehicle braked. Mr Cheung said: 'These criminals are very clever. We try to stay one step ahead but it is increasingly difficult.' Describing the situation as 'a serious cause of public concern', he said action had to be taken to stop the situation getting worse. He partly blamed the soaring cost of taxi licence fees. 'Drivers want extra money for a number of reasons, but difficulty in affording the licence is one,' he said. The Urban Taxi Drivers' Association said that in 1996 the cost of a licence rose 50 per cent. No one from the association was available for comment yesterday. Last year, 6,873 prosecutions were launched against taxi drivers which resulted in 14 being disqualified. After taxi meter offences, the most common complaints were drivers failing to reach a destination by a direct route - 699 cases - and behaving other than in a civil and orderly manner, 398 cases. Democratic Party legislator Lau Chin-shek said the 6.3 per cent fare increase authorised by the Transport Advisory Committee on Thursday would allow drivers to earn more legally. Announcing the overall traffic situation for 1996, Mr Cheung said the total number of accidents resulting in injury was 14,345, a 3.2 per cent fall from 1995.