POLICE are to plant a ‘rat trap’ in Portsmouth as bait to catch thieves following a rise in taxi break-ins.
Plain clothes officers will leave a cash bag and sat nav system on display in a vehicle, which will be parked and then lie in wait in the hope of snaring criminals.
The move is part of the Operation Checkpoint crackdown on thefts from taxis across Portsmouth.
Police say they have seen an increase in cabs being targeted for their cash bags.
They are urging drivers across the city to ensure they remove all valuables from their taxis to avoid becoming victims.
Sergeant Rob Sutton, from Portsmouth’s City Centre Unit, said: ‘We are going to park the car up as a rat trap with a bag of swag and a sat nav on display.
‘We will be in plain clothes nearby watching this car.
‘If it gets hit we will be there to arrest these people.’
It is hoped the move will encourage more taxi drivers to report crime.
‘A lot of it doesn’t get reported,’ added Sgt Sutton.
‘There has been an increase in taxis being targeted. In particular they are going for the cash bags.
‘A taxi is parked up, locked up, they have gone off to do something and criminals have targeted it because they believe there’s going to be money in there and it is an easy, guaranteed income.
‘People need to take their property with them.
‘Every time there is a theft from a taxi we contact the company to ask them to remind their drivers to take their property out of their vehicles.
‘At the end of the day, it’s their takings. It’s their hard-earned money and they have then got to get the smashed window repaired as well so it’s a double whammy.’
The crackdown is being backed by Portsmouth firm Aquacars. General manager Bruce Hall said: ‘It’s nothing new but it’s going on more than usual. The problem with taxi drivers is obviously they carry cash so they can be an easy target.
‘We tell drivers to keep their mobile phones in their pockets at all times. We always tell them to make sure if they get out of the car that they take the keys out of the ignition and always take the cash bag with them.’
Tony Jefferson, manager of City Wide Taxis, which is supporting Operation Checkpoint, said: ‘It’s so frustrating.
‘The drivers are off the road while the window is sorted out, they have either got to pay for the window or claim on their insurance.
‘It’s malicious and they are not achieving anything.
‘Drivers struggle at the best of times without this.
‘It happened to me twice in the space of a month two years ago. It’s really annoying.’