MINICAB drivers have hit out at licence plate changes – claiming they make their cars easy prey for thieves.

They have called for the size of their minicab plates to be reduced or for stickers to be removable.

It comes after a spate of thefts from minicabs and taxis, with cars being targeted for cash and satellite navigation systems. 

The council says that new plates have been introduced following complaints that licenced vehicles were not easily recognised.

Rana Gulistan, of the Swindon Drivers’ Association, said that thefts from minicabs and taxis has grown “as a result of our taxis being identified because of the stickers”.

He described the plates as a “massive billboard” identifying their car to thieves.

According to Rana, – who claims his car has been targeted five times by thieves – one car had been broken into recently while it was parked in an enclosed parking space, with its rear licence plate visible from the road. 

“The was no way of telling the car was a taxi apart from the fact that the back plate was showing,” he said.

He wants the council to replace the current plates – which must be displayed on the car at all times – with either smaller ones or a window sticker similar to that used on London minicabs. 

Rana said: “Our crime rate is no bigger in comparison to central London. They have a small sticker in the back of their cabs. If they’re happy with it, why is it not here.

“All stickers should be displayed while the vehicle is being operated. 

“We’re asking the council to have a meeting with us and the police, so we can exchange our concerns with them.”

It has been suggested that drivers could strike if the problem isn’t resolved. However, Rana said that striking wasn’t their “first option”.

Driver Sid Jonas, 25, of Walcot, said of the thefts from cars: “It’s getting worse day by day. The police don’t see it as much of a crime. If it was shoplifting they would take it more seriously.”

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “We appreciate the concerns raised by taxi drivers, but new front and improved rear licence plates have been introduced over the last year following concerns raised by residents, who experienced difficulty recognising some licensed vehicles. 

“It is really important that properly licensed vehicles are easily identified to ensure the fare-paying public are kept safe.

“We would urge taxi drivers, as with any other drivers, to be sure not to leave any valuables or money on display in their vehicles.”

Supt Adrian Burt of Wiltshire Police told the BBC: “We believe some taxi drivers are being targeted as thieves believer there’s money inside their cars.

"We will always respond to and deal with any reports from any member of the community.”