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Islington Tribune - by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 2 October 2009
Jade Fletcher
Jade Fletcher
Black cab driver makes off with a dress and a passport

Woman is left at cashpoint after man flees with her belongings

A PRICELESS designer dress and a passport were stolen by a black cab driver after his passenger asked him to stop off at a cashpoint.
Model booker Jade Fletcher, whose efforts to trace the thief have so far failed, has issued a warning to vulnerable young women out at night on their own to choose minicabs over black cabs.
“With a minicab at least there’s an office and some record of your call, but with a black cab you’ve got nothing,” said Ms Fletcher, 26.
She had hailed the taxi in Oxford Circus at about 2.30am on Friday morning after a catwalk show celebrating 25 years of London Fashion Week at trendy hangout MoVida.
“I thought the safest thing was to get a black cab,” she said.
She told the driver she needed to stop at a cashpoint on the way to her mother’s home in Old Street.
“Thirty seconds later he stopped on the same street and told me to get cash out there because it’s easier for him to stop,” said Ms Fletcher.
She left her handbag, containing her passport – which she takes everywhere for proof-of-age purposes – digital camera, a priceless designer dress and shoes in the cab while she left to use the cashpoint. Two passers-by then told her the cab was driving away.
“I turned around and saw the guy spin the cab round and drive off,” said Ms Fletcher. “I started running down the road after him. I wasn’t able to catch his number plate, he was so fast.
“It was 2.30am. I was a girl on my own, not drunk. It was wrong to leave me by myself. I’d be very sceptical about taking a black cab again. I’d warn others, be very wary. Don’t trust anyone and if you can get a cab through an office then do that.”
She added: “The pictures on the camera were important to me and losing my passport is a major drama because I’m worried about identity theft. They now know what I look like, where I live, my next of kin.”
Ms Fletcher contacted lost property, and put out a call to black cab firms in the area to contact their drivers but with more than 20,000 in London, her search failed.
She was further dismayed when police told her it’s expected that she should offer a reward worth 10 per cent of the missing items to the driver if he returned the goods.
She said: “They told me it was protocol. I couldn’t believe they were serious.”
Her mother Alison said: “How can we trust black cabs? How can you trace a black cab driver? Who can we trust, now we can no longer trust MPs or black cab drivers? Isn’t it about time we had 24-hour public transport in this capital city of ours?”
A spokesman for Transport for London, who represent the Public Carriage Office, said: “We do our very best to ensure taxi drivers are of good character and deserve the trust placed in them by the travelling public.
“We carry out enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks before awarding a taxi driver’s licence, and repeat those checks every three years.
“While the overwhelming majority of taxi drivers are trustworthy, we are sorry to hear that Ms Fletcher had a bad experience. If she can provide us with enough information to allow us to identify the driver, we would be very happy to help the police investigate this incident.”

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