TAXI drivers are being warned to be on their guard against thieves using them as unwitting getaway drivers.
Fliers are being posted around taxi offices and mosques to warn drivers about thieves, and asking them to look out for suspicious-looking loot.
The warning comes from Insp Dave Barnett, who said the aim was to stop thieves getting away by road: “Thieves and burglars use many types of transport, but as road policing initiatives are designed to deny criminals the use of the roads, it is becoming riskier for burglars to use their own vehicles.
“Using what appear to be legitimate vehicles with no linked intelligence means that historically taxis and private hire vehicles are less likely to be stopped by the police reacting to the report of a recent burglary.”
Insp Barnett said with the current ‘must-haves’ being small electrical items, such as laptops, iPads, games consoles and smart phones, it was easy for them to conceal them from taxi drivers.
“Add cash and jewellery to that list and you’ll see how easy it would be to remove large value goods discreetly,” he added.
“I’m also sure that any thief would be able to think of a plausible reason for carrying a large item like an LCD TV, but these are the sort of things we are asking the drivers to look out for and report their suspicions.”
Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association secretary Akooji Badad said it was often easy to spot a thief getting into a taxi, but the trouble was reporting them without putting a driver at risk.
He said: “Crooks are always wanting taxi drivers to transport them. The obvious things we can look out for is the type of baggage they come with, sometimes people put things in the boot we know isn’t their usual furniture.
“Usually we would transport these people, but then report it to the police as soon as we can. Obviously we have to be careful about how they would react if we treated them any differently from a usual customer.”
Insp Barnett said it was important drivers used common sense in reporting suspicious behaviour, and contact the police.