The wife of a taxi driver assaulted in Wellington is warning others to be vigilant after a customer pulled a knife on her husband.
Harpreet Singh, 31, who works for Hutt and City Taxis, was left with a broken nose and a large gash to his hand after the assault early on Friday morning.
His wife Mattar Amanpreet spoke to the Herald and said the incident happened about 3am after her husband picked up a customer from the Lower Hutt Queens Rd rank outside Queensgate Shopping Centre.
"The customer wanted to go to the Waterloo shops, which is about a 4-minute drive.
"On the way he was talking normally, asking how work was going and about the weather," she said.
"When they reached the Waterloo shops he asked to go down Collingwood St and they stopped at about number 26.
"He had a backpack between his legs, and reached into the bag and pulled out a knife and put it to my husband's throat and said 'give me the money'."
Amanpreet said a struggled ensued, in which Singh grabbed the offender's hands and pushed away the knife.
"He tried to save himself from the knife by keeping his right hand on it, so he got a deep cut on his thumb.
"While holding him, the offender punched my husband twice and broke his nose," she said.
Singh then fled the vehicle and kept running until he found another nearby taxi parked in a driveway.
"My husband told him what happened and asked him to call the police.
"The driver then let him inside the taxi and they drove to my husband's taxi and checked whether the offender was still there.
"He wasn't there, but the cash from the middle console had been stolen. There was about $250 and small change."
Amanpreet, who has a 5-month-old baby and 3-year-old daughter, said the incident had left the couple worried about working evenings, and future jobs in the area.
"It was really scary for us. In a matter of seconds it could have gone much worse. It is pretty shocking," she said.
"I want other taxi drivers to be aware because we never thought something like this would happen, especially in Lower Hutt because it is a safe area."
A police spokeswoman confirmed that police received a report of a robbery on Collingwood St in Lower Hutt shortly after 3am on Friday, June 14.
Inquiries are ongoing, she said.
Hutt and City Taxis chairman Nelson Manak said the company had been in touch with Singh since the incident happened. Manak also visited him on Friday evening.
"We are offering him any support that we can give him," he said.
"It's not very good when someone was just going about their work and have a knife pulled on them. It's not a good situation to be in."
Manak said serious assaults on staff didn't happen often, and he only knew of three or four incidents in the past 20 years.
"However, small incidents happen quite a bit, like racial attacks or people refusing to pay," he said.
Manak said a message had been sent out to staff to alert them to the attack and warn them to be wary.
He said camera footage in the car had shown the offender was dressed in a hoodie and gloves.
"He looked to be prepared for that sort of thing," he said. "So it is going to be difficult to recognise them."
New Zealand Taxi Federation executive director John Hart said he had not been alerted to the incident.
Hart said attacks on taxi drivers had become less common since cameras had been installed in the vehicles.
"They have acted as a deterrent and it hasn't been so bad since then, but there is always a risk at night, the same as it is for anyone running a dairy or service station," he said.
"But with the cameras, there should be clear pictures there for the police to identify the offender."
Hart said taxi drivers were commonly targeted for cash, but the amounts they carry was usually quite small due to a high volume of eftpos or credit transactions.
"But people who are likely to do it don't rationalise things that much, they just decide they want some money and have a go," he said.
Hart said he would reach out to Hutt and City Taxis and offer support for the driver.