The city of Edmonton is cracking down on unlicensed "bandit cabs" and are warning people to keep their eyes open when they hail down a taxi this holiday season.

"We have a bit of a problem with bandit cabs coming into Edmonton," said Garry Dziwenka, chief livery officer for the city’s vehicle-for-hire section.

Dziwenka says pirate cabs have been a problem in Edmonton before, but they’re seeing an increase in the number of non-official vehicles picking up riders.

"We have a growing population and there’s demand out there. And sometimes, especially during the winter … people don’t necessarily want to wait."

He says the city is looking into whether more cabs are needed in Edmonton to reduce wait times. In the meantime, however, he warns against people using an unlicensed taxi. 

Dziwenka says while it might be tempting when waiting on a cold night, the city can’t help in the case of a fare dispute or complaint.

He also says there are safety concerns, describing one unlicensed driver who has been repeatedly fined by the city.

"He will rip people off. His cab is dirty. He is not the safest driver."

Dziwenka says there are a few things riders can look for to make sure they are getting into a legitimate cab.

They include license plates that say "Edmonton Taxi" on them, sealed fare meters and fare lists posted on the car’s window.

Earlier this month, the city's planning office said it intends to hire another taxi enforcement officer to track down rogue cabs.