Cabbies are being left at the mercy of a prolific gang of thieves operating in West London because the police are refusing to investigate their crimes.
Dozens of victims have been posting their stories online and contacting the LTDA to speak of their experiences at the hands of the thugs who prowl the Edgware Road and Lisson Grove.
In the last few weeks alone, Gary Illidge was left “terrified” after being targeted by the gang, which escaped with his money bag after surrounding him in Piccadilly. Fellow driver Ray Coggin was forced to flee from the gang as one of them reached through his window – “ I didn’t care if I took his arm with me,” he said, “it’s scary out there.”
Steven Van Gelder was also targeted twice, once in Lisson Grove and another time by what he believes to be a different gang in Stanhope Place. And trade stalwart George Vyse was seriously injured when he was targeted by the gang. In virtually all the cases the police have basically said that they will not be investigating further despite having reams of evidence, photographs and even CCTV footage, that could help bring the culprits to justice. The gang struck in Piccadilly after hailing Gary Illidge’s taxi in Edgware. Four of them left the cab and two walked, while a third approached the passenger window and pulled out a credit card.
Gary opened the window and told him he had to use the machine in the back of the cab, but the thief pretended not to understand while his accomplice walked round the front. As Gary looked round to see what he was up to the other thief leaned into the cab and stole the money bag. Gary, who has been a cab driver for seven and half years, said the incident left him frightened of going to work by the incident.
He said: “I’m literally terrified and look for any excuse not to go to work but I have to. What worries me the most is the fact the police are not going to investigate or to check CCTV so that even if they don’t catch them now they could so in the future. I went to West Central which was closed, and the sign basically says that if you are not being attacked report the crime online. “Then basically they came back to say they will not be pursuing the investigation. It scares me to think what might happen if someone tries to stop them.” The gang often asks to be taken to Church Street, which is a dead end. They claim that a wheelchair using relative will be joining them and while the driver sets out the ramp, one of them steals phones, wallets and money bags. The gang used the ramp story when they targeted TAXI columnist Al Fresco last month, escaping with cards, his cab licence and cash. Al was left dismayed by the lack of concern from the police and depressed by the incident which took place on the day he returned to work after a lay off for an operation. The LTDA has written to complain to Commissioner Cressida Dick and is also in the process of raising the issue with the Home Secretary, Sajid David.