wo of the attacks were against drivers of A & B Taxis, the first on Sunday, August 27th followed by another on Saturday, September 2nd. Each resulted in money being taken at knifepoint before the drivers were ejected from their vehicles and the suspects drove away.
The customer services manager for A & B Taxis, Russ Stanton, believes that eventually someone could be seriously hurt or even killed. He warned: "We are not talking about a penknife. It is a hunting-style knife being held to their throats. The cabbies believe the one with the knife was a lunatic and would have stuck it in if the other robber hadn't talked him out of it."
Terry Leahy, a driver at Basildon-based Value Cars, suffered a knifepoint robbery about 18 months ago but, so far, the alleged culprit has not been brought to court. Mr. Leahy remarked: "They still haven't prosecuted him even though they caught him the same day because all the cabbies had his description and looked for him. We can't carry CS gas or weapons so we're just sitting ducks. But I want to get the message out that they can't get away with it. If they strike again, we will make sure they are prosecuted."
Steve Foster is the co-owner of A & B Taxis and the area representative for the National Private Hire Association. He complains that the crimes are not being taken as seriously as other armed robberies: "We have a tape recording of the guy who ordered the cab for one of the jobs and police still haven't been to pick it up. "I know they are tied up with murders but we are talking armed robberies here. If people attack bus or train drivers they are prosecuted. People are talking about giving up the job because of risks to their safety. It's the same with Basildon Council's licensing department. They clamp down on drivers over minor stuff but when we have asked for help with this they haven't come back with anything." However, Basildon Council maintains that is treating the matter seriously, to the extent that it is introducing a pilot in-car CCTV scheme for taxis. If successful, this will be implemented in all taxis across the district. A council spokesman explained: "We are preparing a pilot system using high-quality cameras. If successful, we may be able to arrange discounts for other drivers and help installing equipment."
Pitsea CID (01268 532212) would like to hear from anyone with information about the attacks. People can also telephone Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.