A14 crime hot-spot’ after thieves target power tools
LORRY drivers are warned not to stop in isolated areas in the wake of a second hijacking on the A14. On the latest occasion, a driver was bundled into the boot of a car by thieves who broke into his cab parked in the westbound layby between Catworth and S
LORRY drivers are warned not to stop in isolated areas in the wake of a second hijacking on the A14.
On the latest occasion, a driver was bundled into the boot of a car by thieves who broke into his cab parked in the westbound layby between Catworth and Spaldwick.
The incident, the second in 10 days in Huntingdonshire, happened at about 2am on Friday.
Three men smashed one of the lorry's windows and forced the driver into the back of the cab before transferring him into the boot of a car.
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The driver was then taken on a terrifying 175-mile journey to Preston, Lancashire, where he was released unharmed at about 10.30am.
The lorry, carrying Black & Decker tools, was found abandoned and on fire in Stoke-on-Trent.
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Cambridgeshire police are investigating whether the two incidents are linked.
In the first, a lorry carrying televisions was hijacked from a layby near Huntingdon on March 14. The driver was driven to Merseyside in the back of his cab before being released.
Pat Nicholson, trustee of the March-based Professional Drivers Association, said: "The A14 has been a crime hot-spot for about four or five years now.
"Many companies will not pay their drivers to take a break in secure truck stops or motorway services so drivers opt to park in the laybys.
"There are only six or seven 'Night Owl' secure truck stops in England and these are full every night.
"We advise our drivers to avoid laybys when carrying valuable loads and instead to get to know friendly all-night garages or industrial estates where they can park securely."
Police are keen to speak to the drivers of other HGVs parked in the layby at the time of the hijacking.
Det Insp Craig Harrison said: "The lorry driver has suffered a very frightening ordeal and is very shaken by the experience.
"However, these crimes are very rare and lorry drivers should not be alarmed."
Don Armour, fleet information manager for the Freight Transport Association, said: "Hijacking is becoming more prevalent because vehicles are becoming more difficult to simply steal, so often thieves need to take the driver with them.
"The lay bys on the A14 are small and isolated, making drivers vulnerable in the early hours of the morning."
The A14 hijackings are due to feature on the BBC's Crimewatch programme on April 2.
INFORMATION: Anyone with information should contact Det Insp Harrison on 0845 456 4564 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
A £5,000 reward is being offered for the return of the stolen TVs. Contact Huntingdon police station or Crimestoppers.