FEAR is spreading among Huddersfield taxi drivers after two more in an alarming series of copycat attacks.
The robberies, on Thursday evening, brought the total number of incidents this week alone to five.
Drivers have voiced concern at the trend, with reports that some were considering staying off the roads this weekend.
Makhan Singh, of Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association, said: “It’s becoming more and more frequent and the drivers are getting worried about working this weekend.
“What should we do? Time’s are difficult enough as it is without us being forced to stop work.”
The first incident on Thursday happened at about 4.55pm.
A driver picked up a woman on Upperhead Row outside Huddersfield Bus Station and asked to be taken to Sunningdale Road in Crosland Moor.
He received a call from another driver who had picked her up on Dundas Street warning him that the woman had no money, but he drove her to Sunningdale Road where two Afro Caribbean men were waiting for him.
They opened his door, searched the inside of the car and demanded money.
They punched him in the face before walking away along a path by St Luke’s Hospital.
The driver was treated at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for minor facial injuries.
The passenger was mixed race, about 5ft tall and about 20 years old.
In the second incident a woman walked into Bob’s Taxis on John William Street at about 7.45pm.
She was taken to Corby Street in Fartown, got out and let a man into the back of the car.
He reached into the front and opened the front door to let a second man in. They threatened the driver and demanded cash.
They took some money from the driver’s chest pocket, searched his coat pockets and the car door pockets and left.
The passenger was mixed race, in her late teens or early 20s and was wearing a scarf over her short hair.
Both men were Afro Caribbean.
It has also been revealed that a third driver had a brush with robbers but managed to escape before they could strike.
The man, who works for Cross Church Street firm HD Cars, was called to Birkby News on Wheathouse Road, Birkby.
When he got there two Afro Caribbean men were waiting for him, but he had locked his doors and drive off before they could pounce.
HD Cars manager Shahid Ali said: “We are advising all our drivers to keep their doors locked when they go out to pick up a fare.
“It is becoming an issue because we don’t know if calls are genuine or not.”
Thursday’s attacks came after three similar robberies in three hours on Tuesday evening, including one on Corby Street. The others were on Sheepridge Grove in Sheepridge and Frederick Street in Crosland Moor.
Police, who are linking the five incidents, have now set up a special team to target the problem and are stepping up patrols in the areas affected.
Det Insp Jim Griffiths, who is leading the investigation, said: “I have had a meeting with the taxi drivers’ forum. We are working with them and the licensing department.
“I would like to reassure we have a dedicated team of officers looking into this and there will be extra patrols over the coming nights in the areas which have been targeted.
“We take these incidents extremely seriously and understand that taxi drivers in the area are providing a valued service in the community. We will rigorously pursue those responsible.”
Anyone with information should call Det Insp Jim Griffiths on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.