Fratton Indian takeaway’s ‘identity restored’ after rickshaw theft

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A UNIQUE street food takeaway is once again ‘complete’ after the owners replaced a stolen rickshaw with another vintage model. 

Authentic Indian-style establishment Paanchi ‘lost part of its identity’ when thieves brazenly stole its traditional rickshsaw in broad daylight in June.

Operations manager Amirul Ali, left, and business owner Shahriar Uddin with their new rickshaw at Paanchi Indian Street Kitchen, Fratton Road. This replaces their last one which was stolen. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Operations manager Amirul Ali, left, and business owner Shahriar Uddin with their new rickshaw at Paanchi Indian Street Kitchen, Fratton Road. This replaces their last one which was stolen. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Despite widespread appeals and an online campaign going viral as 70,000 people spread the word about the stolen vintage bike – used commonly in India and Bangladesh to get about – Paanchi’s much loved item has never been located.

But a company on the Isle of Wight happened to see the campaign and offered Paanchi a new rickshaw at a nominal fee to replace its old one – leaving the owners delighted.

Shahriar Uddin, who jointly owns the business along with his brother and dad, said: ‘We’ve only had the new rickshaw here a short while and already people are beeping their horns and showing their enjoyment at it.

‘It is something unique – there is nothing like it. We feel whole again. Part of our identity was missing when the old rickshaw was stolen. Having a rickshaw is an important part of who we are, just like our Indian street food and traditional food.

‘We decided to get a rickshaw when myself, brother and dad were in India. We thought having one would be something totally different.

‘It brings a smile to faces. People take pictures and children sit on it. We even do deliveries in it when the weather is good. It’s there for people to enjoy as long as it’s not abused.’

Speaking of the theft of the previous rickshaw, manager Amirul Ali said: ‘These people knew exactly what they were doing. They hired a special van and then in broad daylight two large men got out and lifted it in.

‘We had a clamp and three locks on it but because they lifted it up it made no difference. I spent hours looking at CCTV and doing my own investigations.

‘Sadly we couldn’t quite make out the registration number of the van which was rented through Southern Self Drive.

‘If they had been more helpful then maybe we could have found the people who stole it. They can’t have rented many Luton vans out in Portsmouth on the day.’

Paanchi now has CCTV right outside its premises to prevent another theft. The rickshaw also has a commercial clamp attached to it.