Police has warned the public, especially women, on surging cases of rape and robbery in taxis and advised them to keep their money purses between their feet and chest.
The warning was sounded by Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga who disclosed that they have received complaints where criminals conspire with rogue taxi drivers and conductors to rob innocent passengers who board taxis of their valuables like cash, mobile phones, jewelry and ATM cards.
Enanga revealed that the taxi gangs have been identified along sections that feed into the Kampala Northern bypass, from Busega to Namboole.
He noted, “Unsuspecting passengers board the taxis, after seeing other occupants in the taxi yet these are criminals disguised as passengers.
“The victims are attacked as the taxi starts moving and forced to surrender their cash, mobile phones, ATM cards, reveal their pin code numbers and other valuables.”
He added that the danger with this criminal behaviour is that after robbing the victim, they push, throw or bundle them out of the moving taxi, onto the tarmac or side of the road.
Enanga divulged that the joint task teams from Kampala Metropolitan Police, are already gathering intelligence and good clues about these criminals, taxi gangs, that are hiring female accomplices to disguise as passengers and also using fake number plates that they remove after every mission.
Police has further given the public safety tips to follow as they travel using taxis.
Enanga contended, “Always check the number plates if they are well fixed and appear genuine. Ensure you board your taxis from a gazetted stage.
“Also observe if the driver has a genuine badge, which is well displayed with names and stage.
“Avoid seating in the back seat. At least get a seat where you are visible near the door or window. For instance, sitting in the middle puts you in danger, since you can not cry for help.
“Keep expensive items hidden in your bag, especially smartphones. Then keep your purse close to you, preferably between your feet or chest.
“Never take a taxi alone, since it may be hard to defend yourself from the taxi gang already inside the taxi. At least board from a gazetted stage with other passengers.
“Always have emergency numbers to call especially if the taxi is heading in the wrong direction. Be courageous and make an alarm calling for help at the window.”
He added that all their Territorial Commanders continue to engage with stakeholders in the taxi industry to address the concern.
“Many taxi drivers are helpful and are sources of information about current events, best restaurants, safe and unsafe neighbourhoods, entertainment places or destinations. The reason why we are concerned when their sector is infiltrated by criminals.”
FORGED NUMBER PLATES
Police has also warned passengers about drivers of taxis and bodas who use fake number plates, which are fixed on the empty plate, to enable them carry out robberies and go undetected.
Police added that after these criminals have committed the crime or robbery, they remove the fake number plates and dispose them off.
“It therefore becomes difficult to trace for the wanted car with fake number plates under the Automated Number Plate Recognition System,” Enanga maintained.
“Our task teams and traffic officers, are now required to routinely check registration plates to confirm if they are genuine. Cloned plates are used by criminals to disguise their identity, hide the fact that it is stolen or avoid paying fines generated by camera systems.”
By Kalamira Hope