The Night I was “Kidnapped” By A Crazy Taxi Driver in London.

In BLOG, ENGLAND, EUROPE, FUN CORNER, UK by Clelia Mattana28 Comments


This article was first published in 2013 when the facts occurred. I only reviewed the layout later on.

London is a city that will always surprise you, even if you’re visiting for the million time. The only problem is, not all the surprises are good ones.

Don’t ever make the mistake to be  so naïve and think that since you’re a seasoned, hard-core traveler, you’ve seen them all.


I was just back from an 8-month adventurous trip in South East Asia.  I had scorpions crawling on my bed, I slept on a bus floor, I was robbed in my sleep, and I’ve been an illegal immigrant in Thailand for one month.

I lived in London for six years without a single accident. What could go wrong this time?


How a simple taxi ride turned into a scene from the movie “Taxi Driver,” where the charming De Niro was replaced by a total Psyco, an idiotic man who should have run his imaginary taxi in a mental institution?!

If you want to know the details, here we go!

It was midnight on a normal Wednesday night in London: my flight was delayed when I arrived at the Tube station in Stratford. I wanted to take the Underground but, tired and cold, I decided to go for a taxi instead.

I had the address, the postal code and my friend’s telephone number written on my diary, just in case.  I also looked at the map before the departure and wrote down the directions to get to my destination.

The map showed clearly that from point A to point B, it was a  maximum of 5/8 minutes ride. We were in Zone 2. For those not familiar with London transports, Zone 2 is quite central. In addition to this, the Stratford area has been renovated for the Olympic games, and it’s now  very easy  to navigate.




I approached the soon-to-be psycho in his taxi and showed him the address, explaining that I knew the place was quite close, but I just wanted to play it safe, being so late at night.

“No problem” I know that area. Let me see the post code”. I showed him all the details, but he couldn’t locate the place with his crappy mobile (first sign of warning here: no proper navigator).

But hey, the guy is a taxi driver. He does this every day and night, and his job is to know his way around, right? he re-assured me that even if he couldn’t locate it on the mobile, he’d figured it out.

I immediately warned him: “look, I only have  23£ on me. Would this be enough?” I knew it was MORE than enough as I had taken many taxis before, and the distance to cover was ridiculous. He let me in the car, and off we went.

Second warning sign: at some point I heard him cursing badly at a car that was passing too close to his. Ah well, I thought, the guy clearly didn’t go to Oxford here. Then again: another cursing. He was quite nervous for no apparent reason.




Now let’s make a brief recap here:

  • He is a Taxi driver, so he should know his way around.
  • If a Taxi driver doesn’t know his way around, he uses the map, or even better, the navigator.
  • If a Taxi driver is not sure he can take you where you want to go, he’ll tell you beforehand. I had drivers who refused to let me in because they didn’t know where the place was.
  • I gave him the address and post code (usually more than enough info for a driver) and my diary with a STEP BY STEP route, including the name of the roads and where he had to turn.

I bet you already know the rest of the story by now. HE GOT COMPLETELY LOST. He was wandering around, furiously asking for my diary now and then.

I gave several worried looks at the man, but mostly at the taxi meter as it quickly reached the amount of money I had on me.

I told him, “look, we are lost; I have no idea how you can’t find your way here. I have two mobiles; one has a Thai sim card with no credit. The second one, my UK sim card, is not working for some reason (Murphy’s law!). Can I kindly make a two seconds call with your mobile so my friend can call you back  and help you out?


I had no doubts about the man’s idiocy, but I still didn’t get that he was a total psycho too. I had no choice. It was late at night, my two mobile phones were not working, and I had no internet connection. CRAP.

Anyhow. He finally let me call, and my friend gave him further indications. He thought he finally understood the route and start wandering around again. Nope, the only neuron he had left on his brain was on strike. He got LOST again.

I was speechless. I couldn’t believe it. I tried to keep calm, and I always replied nicely to him. Getting angry at him wouldn’t have helped the situation at that stage.



At some point, he furiously stopped the car, cursed for a while (as if it were my fault that he couldn’t locate the place), and rang my friend to get a callback.

I took his phone and my friend, and I  decided to meet at the tube station (which is 2 minute walk  from her house), so you can imagine this man’s idiocy getting lost around a tube station. He finally took me in front of it, and I thought this stupid ride was over.

Not quite. The scary part was just about to start!

I gave him my 23£, and the taxi meter was at 28£.  I told him several times that I just had 23£. None the less, he started cursing and screaming at me, locked the doors and started driving away from the tube.

I wasn’t even scared at that point, I knew he was a psycho, but I was so furious that I started screaming back at him, asking him to stop the car and let me out. He wasn’t even listening to me and continued his crazy ride, cursing and screaming.

I was in total shock, so I started banging at his window, threatening him to stop the car. This lasted around 5 minutes. The five longest minutes of my life. 

He stopped the vehicle in a very dark, small, dead-ended street, insulting me in every possible way. He wanted the fricking 5£ difference, as I didn’t warn him that I only had a fixed amount on me. I wanted it to be over and remembered I had some euros left.

The price difference was ridiculous, and it was also its fault for taking so long. He had the guts to ask me for 20 euros for the difference.


The  “conversation” that followed after his absurd request was a bloody fight with him and me shouting at each other. I said he must be kidding me as I know the exchange rate for 5£ difference is not even 10 euros.

I saw that he unlocked the doors (not sure why and I honestly don’t want to know at this point), I threw 10 euros at him, and I quickly opened the doors whilst he was already moving the car again.

I managed to drag out my 15kg bag without any consequences, and I found myself in shock in a dark alley with no one in sight. GREAT!

Luckily, during his crazy ride away from the tube, I tried to memorize some of the roads he took, and In about 15 minutes, trying to run with my bloody heavy bag, I was back at the tube station. My friend was there waiting for me, quite worried.

A miracle.

If I think about it now, I guess I’ve been lucky that it ended this way. I didn’t realize the danger of being on a dark dead-end road in a car with a psyco. I was just furious at how he was treating me and didn’t consider what could have happened if he’d got even more angry. What can I add to this:




  1. Thanks for sharing this information with us. It’s very helpful for all of us and we’ll mentally prepare for this.

  2. Thanks to sharing the informationa bout the kidnapped by a crazy Taxi ! People should be awareness !

  3. That is what happens in London if you do not use a licensed London TAXI. You only need postcodes and navigators and addresses if you use PUBER or another minicab company’s, and there is a massive difference between Taxi and minicab IE minicabs have no clue of London, and you do get abducted, and robbed, and lost. So Guys when you come to a great city like London use a great service like Licensed London TAXIS. Never lost, never let down, and the fastest and safest mode of transport in London.

    1. David, this incident happened with a licensed taxi, you know the black cabs. I think the issue here was not the licenced taxi or not but the nutcase that was driving it.

  4. You entertained me with your story of getting a cab ride, I also liked your use of paragraphing. (yes)

  5. Hi Clelia,
    I wish you took his car’s plate number and complaint him. He shouldn’t do same thing again to anybody.It also makes me cry to know it is all about being woman ; he couldn’t be as brave as so much.No matter which country you are these situations always exist. I hope he paid what he did.
    I’m so sorry again to tell this but sometimes pepper gas doesn’t work,a innocent youn girl is killed in a bus althouh she used pepper gas in Turkey.I feel so scary again as a woman don’t we have a right to be alone in a bus or tax ?

  6. WOAH! This is crazy!!! I’ve been living in London for about 4 months now (since leaving Australia) and I have only used a Taxi once (I’ve never been a fan).

    I really can’t believe this, I’m shocked! At least you are ok!

    1. Yep, I was in shock too, considering that in 6 years of living in London and taking taxis on a regular basis nothing bad ever happened to me. But as I said in the beginning…you never know!

  7. Glad you are okay! I salute you for your presence of mind and courage to fight him. If you were too weak, I bet he would have kidnapped you.

    1. Well, he actually did, but when things like these happen, it’s weird as I reacted without even thinking about the danger, i was just furious!

  8. Amazing and very freaky I bet. You should had maced the guy and done a runner! (We’ll as fast as possible dragging 15kg bag along with you) Glad your okay and thanks for the article.

    1. I actually just wanted to forget about the whole experience. I was very lucky and I had another very bad experience while living in Turin in my twenties. A guy followed me inside my condo and tried to drag me down the stairs. Thank God I had a backpack so I left it on the stairs and run to my apartment as fast as i could with the guy trying to catch me (he clearly wasn’t after my money as he left the backpack on the stairs). I can still feel him pushing against my door. I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened if he managed to enter. I was so in shock that I started crying crawled in my bed and for years i removed the whole thing. Insane.

    1. Indeed… I got the chills every time I go through the whole thing on my mind!

  9. Great post, but WOW what a crazy experience!

    It would make perfect sense if it was a mini cab, as they are so hit and miss in London. But for a taxi that is shocking. I feel sorry for anyone who runs into this moron.

    You handled it will – and this is definitely one to chalk up in the ‘experience’ column 🙂

  10. that’s one wild ride Klelia…just shows you every city has their nuts and you have to be on guard everywhere – not just in the places people think the troubles are going to be. glad you’re ok.

    1. True Evan..i’d never ever thought that something like that would happen to me in London. And i’ve seen some pretty dangerous places all over the world!

  11. It sounds like a nightmare Kle. Did you get his taxi license number so you could report him? Such a shocking story when licensed taxi drivers are tested on their knowledge of the streets of London before they are allowed to taxi. Also what an idiot for not having a sat nav.

    Over the years I’ve had a few incidents where a taxi driver is completely lost. On each occasion I just get out without paying since he hasn’t got a clue. I appreciate that with your luggage this was not an option.

    Maybe with the details of where you were picked up, the time and your intended destination plus actually place of getting out you could have something. Still try to report this to save others from such a nightmare experience.

    1. The Guy, as soon as i overcame the shock i immediately thought about the taxi licence number, but it was too late.
      You made a very good point here, as i am aware about the test they need to pass in order to become taxi drivers. In my case this man was even more shameless as the place i needed to be was at less than 1 kilometer from his starting point.All i have is a mobile number, i will surely report that to their association, to see if they can find out the name of this crazy person.

    1. Very wise Alice, very wise! my only concern is that in some countries it is illegal…but when these things happens i don’t really care about that anymore..

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