A warning has been issued over a possible bogus cab driver operating with a stolen taxi licensing plate in East Northamptonshire.
Taxi-users are being urged to be on their guard after the the private hire taxi plate was stolen from a legitimate cab in Alfred Street, Rushden, in the early hours of last Sunday morning, August 4.
Police said the theft happened sometime between midnight and 9am last Sunday when the crook -- or crooks -- unscrewed the plate and then escaped.
And East Northamptonshire Council, which is responsible for issuing the taxi plates, has now issued a warning amid fears the stolen plate could be used by someone impersonating a cab driver or used in the commission of other crimes.
All taxis that are registered with a council must display the licence plate, which has a unique reference. In East Northamptonshire the plates must be placed on the rear of the vehicle.
The stolen taxi plate's unique reference is ‘PHV/3'.
There are concerns the stolen plate could be fitted to other vehicles that may be used to commit a crime, the council said in a statement yesterday (Monday).
Steven North, the leader of the council, added: “The theft has been reported to the police and the plate numbers have been decommissioned, but sadly a stolen licence plate can have an impact on the wider community and those using taxis should be extra vigilant.”
“Wherever possible, pre-book a taxi and ask the driver for the name of the booking before you get in.
"A top tip is to always keep the number of a reliable firm with you so you don’t get caught out.”
Those who spot the stolen plate ‘PHV/3’ are urged to record as much information as possible before phoning the police on the 101 number.
The council has also issued the following advice:
• Plan how you’re going to get home from a night out - arrange a lift or book a taxi in your name and leave the taxi booking details with a friend.
• Always keep the number of a reliable taxi firm with you.
• Avoid taxis that tout for business and are unlicensed.
• When a taxi arrives, check it is the one you booked by asking for the name in which it was booked. If in doubt, don’t get in.
• If travelling alone, always sit behind the driver in the back seat.
• If you feel uneasy, ask to be let out.
• Stick with your friends and choose a meeting point in case you get separated.
• Never accept a lift from a stranger.
For more information about taxi licensing in East Northants, visit the council's website at www.northantslicensing.gov.uk