Mar 23 2012 by Marc Mclean, Lennox Herald (main ed)
A CABBIE whose car was one of four torched last week reckons the incidents have nothing to do with taxi firm rivalry.
Co-op Taxis driver Stevie Forrest was gutted to hear his Renault Traffic nine-seater vehicle was set alight in the early hours of last Wednesday.
A Volkswagen Jetta, Toyota Avensis and Peugeot Experts, which belong to drivers from opposition company Dumbarton and Alexandria TOA, were also set on fire between last Tuesday and Thursday.
Drivers were involved in a bitter dispute last year, which culminated in many leaving TOA to form Co-op, however Stevie does not believe this has sparked recent events.
Police have also confirmed they are linking all four fires and have released details of a man they want to speak to.
Vale man Stevie said: “I know we’ve had our fall-outs and it’s been dragged through the papers but, to me, that’s all water under the bridge and we’re getting on with our jobs.
“What’s happened doesn’t make any sense at all, it just appears to be somebody randomly setting alight the cars alight.
“It was a total shock to hear my car had been targeted, it was the last thing I expected as I’ve never had any bother before.
“There’s not much I can do about it. The insurers are looking into the claim.”
The Volkswagen Jetta and a Toyota Avensis were set alight at around 10.30pm last Tuesday while parked within the car park outside the high flats at Westbrigend. Both cars suffered extensive damage.
Stevie’s car, which he had been renting out to a fellow taxi driver, was set ablaze while parked outside the man’s home in Hawthornhill Road, Dumbarton. This occurred at 3am on Wednesday, just four-and-a-half hours after the Westbridgend incident.
At around 2am the following morning the Peugeot Experts taxi was set alight while parked in Bankend Road, Dumbarton.
Detective Constable Allan McConnell, of Dumbarton Police Office, is investigating the spate of fires and is appealing for witnesses to come forward.
He said: “Police are linking the three incidents due to their nature and extensive enquiries are ongoing to establish why these taxis have been targeted in this way.
“I am keen to trace a man who was seen running from the area of the flats in Clyde Place around the time of the fire.
“He is described as white, 20 to 25 years of age, 5ft 7ins in height with short dirty-blond hair.
“He was wearing a khaki jacket and jeans. He was last seen making his way along the canal tow path towards the Renton area.
“I would urge anyone with information that may assist the police investigation, or any witnesses to these incidents, to contact Dumbarton Police Office on 01389 822 000.
“Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.”