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IN THE NEWS


LEICESTER THIEVES STEAL CATALYTIC CONVERTER FROM PHV IN JUST 90 SECONDS


A gang of thieves took less than 90 seconds to steal a valuable catalytic converter from a PHV parked in a Leicester street. The Leicester Mercury reports that the owner of the Toyota Prius, Mr Hussain, watched the crime on his CCTV footage the following morning. It shows the hooded men jack up the vehicle, go underneath to remove the device and then flee in their own car. The incident happened on the evening of Sunday 10 January in North Eving- ton, Leicester. The 48-year-old PHV driver said: “It happened at 6.30pm and it’s quite near to a main road but they don’t seem to be worried. They arrive, remove the catalytic converter and in less than two minutes they’ve driven off again. “I’m surprised they risked it, but they


knew what they were doing. “They have their faces covered and so it’s hard to identify them.” He said more than 100 Leicester cab- bies had been victims of similar crimes in the past couple of years. He said: “I’m the admin on a WhatsApp group of about 250 private hire and taxi drivers and about half of us have been targeted now. It’s a huge problem. “I’m insured but the excess payment is high and if I claim I know that my pre- miums may go up in the future, so like a lot of other drivers I’ve decided to just pay for the repairs myself. If I go through my insurance company it will also take longer to get it fixed which means more days with no income.” Leicestershire Police said that the increase of catalytic converter thefts began in late 2018, and after a lull earli-


er in the pandemic, numbers have risen again. The spate of such thefts could not come at a worse time for the city’s cabbies. Mr Hussain added that many cabbies were opting to have shields fitted over the catalytic converters on their cars. “It doesn’t protect them completely but the shields mean it takes up to 45 minutes to cut through and get to the catalytic converter, instead of a couple. “A lot of garages are offering to fit the shields now because of this problem. It costs about £200.” A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: “We advise vehicle owners to think about the security of their vehi- cles and try and park in well-lit areas covered by security cameras, if possi- ble park up against a wall so access to the back of the vehicle is difficult.”


CONCEPT DRIVERLESS ELECTRIC RIDE-HAILING VEHICLE FOR LONDON UNVEILED


A concept for a driverless, electric ride- hailing vehicle for London has been unveiled, which the design firm, Priest- manGoode, hopes could join the red double-decker bus in the ranks of the city’s iconic transport designs. Confidently dubbed a New Car for Lon- don, its angular profile was inspired by the capital’s brutalist buildings. Dezeen reports that the interior finishes are reminiscent of the Tube’s distinctive upholstery and an umbrella stand with an integrated dryer accounts for the English weather. At first glance, the 3.6-metre-long four- seater includes many of the same features as other autonomous ride-hail- ing vehicles that were proposed in recent years. It has no cockpit or steering wheel. Only one set of sliding doors open up into a single seating area, while a digital information strip on the side helps to


FEBRUARY 2021


match the driver with their vehicle. The car has a wrap-around glazing, which together with the panoramic roof and glass doors offers unbridled views of the cityscape. At the push of a button, the two main seats that face each other on the oppo- site side of the doors can be extended to create a kind of sofa, while two addi- tional seats can be unfolded to accommodate additional passengers. “In the future, we believe passengers


will be able to pre-select from a series of settings – from work mode to leisure or even sightseeing – prior to entry, as well as to customise the lighting and music once in the vehicle, all from their own devices,” creative director Dan Window, said. To create a work-friendly environment, the car has a wireless phone charging dock and a rotating table, that can be pulled out to hold a laptop or book. Taking into account travellers’ increased concern for hygiene in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the New Car for London is equipped with a motion-activated sanitiser dispenser and antiviral UV lights that can clean the car in between journeys. Another feature is a first aid kit, which could be stored in a rear, exterior com- partment and be accessed by medical professionals in an emergency situa- tion.


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