The caller pretends the number is needed to help release injured drivers trapped in a vehicle. 'It is a widespread and deeply worrying problem,' said a senior police officer, who asked to remain anonymous to protect the location of his station, which is currently investigating a local gang.
Official warnings have been sent by the police to major leasing firms and dealer networks. As a result, Lex Vehicle Leasing has issued a security directive to its staff in a bid to protect its 73,000 vehicles. It says: 'If the police phone asking for information, you should always phone them back with the information. The number they give you should be a main switchboard and not a direct line.
'If a fleet administrator phones for any information you must ask them to fax us the request on headed paper. If a driver calls, they must do the same - if they cannot do it via their office because they have locked the keys in the car then they should ask a garage to fax, again on headed paper. If any of these people complain about having to fax, point out that it's for their own security.'