Taxi-theft epidemic in Spen

SHOCKED: Taxi driver Mushtaq Ahmed was just one of the drivers targeted in a week of thefts. He had his cab stolen while he was helping an elderly couple with their shopping outside Heckmondwike Morrisons. (d310b236)
SHOCKED: Taxi driver Mushtaq Ahmed was just one of the drivers targeted in a week of thefts. He had his cab stolen while he was helping an elderly couple with their shopping outside Heckmondwike Morrisons. (d310b236)

A TAXI driver was taken on a terror ride in his own cab by carjackers.

Haroon Riaz was collecting a customer outside Cleckheaton Tesco on Sunday at 9.40am when the thief struck.

The thief drove through red lights and threatened to drive into parked cars before eventually dumping the cab in Low Moor.

The incident is one of four taxi thefts reported to police in the past fortnight.

Mr Riaz said: “I was helping a customer with her shopping when I saw the driver’s door slam shut. I jumped into the passenger seat before he could drive off.

“I told him to get out and give me the car back, but he kept telling me he did not want to go to prison.”

The thief told Mr Riaz he wanted to go to Low Moor, and he would give the car back once they were there.

Mr Riaz said: “I grabbed him a couple of times, but every time I did, he pointed the car at parked cars and said he would drive into them if I didn’t stop.”

The carjacker eventually drove the Lexus to Harold Park, Low Moor, before leaping out and running off.

Despite his terrifying ordeal, Mr Riaz’s first instinct was to go back to work.

He said: “I remembered there was still a customer waiting at Tesco with her shopping, so I went straight back to pick her up.”

The incident took place a week after a similar incident also at Tesco, as reported in last week’s Guardian.

And just two days earlier, on August 31, police received reports of another theft outside Morrisons at Heckmondwike, when taxi driver Mushtaq Ahmed had his car taken while helping an elderly couple with their shopping.

His car was recovered after two days following a call to his employers from a Wyke resident who said the car had been left on her street.

Mr Ahmed said: “After my car was stolen, one of my colleagues spotted it and said it was being driven recklessly. I was very worried – but relieved to have got it back in the end.”

And on Tuesday, at Tesco in Batley, driver Yaseen Younis had his cab stolen while he was helping a toddler and her mother into the car.

A man ran up behind him and snatched the keys off his belt, jumped into the car and locked the doors. The mother managed to pull her daughter out of the way just before the car drove away.

Akooji Badat, secretary for Hackney Carriage and Private Car Association in North Kirklees, said thefts of taxis from supermarkets was a growing problem.

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He said: “Helping customers out with their shopping is something taxi drivers have done in good faith for many years, so this spate of thefts is a huge problem, because our drivers never envisaged anything happening like this.

“It started in Bradford, and it’s recently been happening in Cleckheaton and Batley.”

Spen NPT chief Tim Holland warned taxi drivers to be on their guard when helping customers.

He said: “We would warn taxi drivers to not to leave their keys in the ignition when they are helping customers, because thieves just see it as a really easy opportunity to steal cars.

“Drivers also need to be vigilant, as you don’t normally see males in their 20s hanging around outside supermarkets.”

Anybody with any information on any of the incidents should contact the Spen NPT on 01924 206357.