Tag Archives: lost property

Have you stolen my phone?

“My mobile will not work once I’ve reported it as lost.” His inference as to my honesty couldn’t have been made clearer.

It was 1.30 am and the lad slouching in the back of my cab had lost his brand new Blackberry as it slipped unnoticed unto the back seat.

Stopping to fill up with diesel on my way home I had found his property and then ignored its incessant urgent ringing as I was driving home. Once in a position to legally talk to its owner, it transpired that he regularly mislaid his firm’s phone, and if he should mislay this one, he would be shown the door.

“Can you deliver it later today?” I explained this was Sunday, and not only was I unprepared to work 7 days that week, I had a lunch engagement, while giving him the address where he could find me as I eat my Sunday dinner.

[H]is surprise was palpable as I opened the door of the vicarage for him, insisting that a contribution to the church roof fund, for the inconvenience caused to our friend, the vicar, wouldn’t come amiss.

Mobiles seem to be the most common property left in cabs these days, and usually they can be reunited with their owners easily without going through the rigmarole of London’s lost property department.

Go back 15 years and returning property to its owner was an elaborate ritual between the hapless cabbie and the Metropolitan Police.

“Does anybody know where the lost bloody property book is?” Were usually the first words spoken by the constable, clearly annoyed at this civic duty of recording ‘Property left in a licensed taxi’. Next not one but two sheets of carbon paper had to be found and carefully aligned within the book’s pages everything HAD to be in triplicate.

The offending property was examined in forensic detail before recording. An elaborate lick of the pencil’s end and a bored sigh, the process could begin. DCI Jane Tennison gave suspects an easier ride. “Name?” “Badge number?” “Cab plate?” “Journey undertaken by the property owner?” “Time of journey?” “Date of journey?” – Never admit that 48 hours have elapsed before handing in the aforementioned property, you faced a stern reprimand.

Each item’s description committed to paper in triplicate you signed and dated the record. Next a plastic evidence bag had to be found from within the stationery cupboard and the property with the appropriate page from the book ceremoniously sealed within.

You walked out of the police station after 30 minutes clutching a slip which informed you that a reward was yours for the asking should the property be claimed.

Three months later you could get your ‘reward’ when you reluctantly entered the portals of the Public Carriage Office, a brutalist white building with memories of the days when an appearance would induce a loosening of one’s bowels.

You then proffered the little slip to the man behind the counter, who judging by his size and demeanour, was used to being treated with respect.

Your reward was carefully doled out onto the counter which had a small slot in it, just about where your left elbow now rested. Its inscription read ‘Police Widows and Orphans Fund’.

The parting gesture from the man behind the counter, looking at you with an unblinking stare, a look that they had taught him at Hendon Police College, was to tap the counter close to be charity box, its inference couldn’t be clearer.

Shaggy Dog Story

Shaggy Dog Story

“Sorry Squire, I’m not going South of The River”. I can now say that with impunity after a recent judgment by magistrates in Bolton. Last week they cleared taxi firm boss Mustak Bhuta, accused of discrimination against blind woman, Toni Forest. The court heard that Miss Forest accompanied by her guide dog, was told that the cab firm were not taking her because of hairs from her dog.

[B]ut the court accepted the taxi bosses’ version that two of his drivers on duty had problems in the past, one of which was the dog being unhygienic in licking the gear stick. The remaining available driver was scared of dogs.

So now I have a whole plethora of excuses for refusal; you’ll drop hairs, licking my gear stick (is that a euphuism?), and a phobia of South London.


Lost and Found

“You would lose your head if was not screwed on”, so I was told when young. The same could be said about cabbies’ passengers. A recent survey by Credant Technologies has found that over the last six months, 55,843 mobile phones and 6,193 other devices including laptops were forgotten by London black cab passengers. Thankfully, about 80 per cent of surveyed taxi drivers claimed that owners were reunited with their missing item once found, but having your hand-held device in someone else’s hands still poses a huge security threat for the owner. These devices are usually not owned by the people using them; either they are supplied on contract or owned by their employer, so maybe that’s their excuse for not being so careful.

The same can’t be said for the high profile security breaches by losing data devices left in public areas, to be conveniently reported by the media. Am I being just a touch cynical when I think some of these lapses are helping to destroy the Government’s reassurance that they are safe with our personal data for ID cards?

Apart from the mountain of iPods, drivers have also found a sawn-off shotgun, 12 dead pheasants, two dogs, toilet seats, a casket of funeral ashes and £2,700 in cash in the back of their cabs. If all these were found on the same cab run, I wouldn’t be going south of the River again.

Leaving the Monopoly board

Having shut Grosvenor Square to vehicular traffic for the best part of four months, while installing the most elaborate anti-terrorist devices this side of Iraq, the United States Embassy have now announced it’s moving to Wandsworth.

Did we pay for these elaborate rising bollards, traffic lights, anti car bomb devices, and if so will we get any compensation?

But at least the local residents won’t mourn the passing of the Americans; they cannot get anti terrorist insurance cover for their valuable art collections.

But it won’t look so romantic for the great unwashed to demonstrate in Wandsworth, home of the Arndale Shopping Centre.

All together now:

What Do We Want? America Out!

When Do We Want It? Now