POLICE have issued a warning after a woman was brutally raped by a man posing as a taxi driver.

The 24-year-old was attacked when she got into a white van that had pulled up alongside her on London Road, Hazel Grove, on Sunday at 4am.

She asked the driver to take her home but he drove just a short way along the A6 and raped her before throwing her out of the vehicle and speeding off.

Detective Inspector Terry Sweeney, from Stockport CID, said: “This was a horrifying experience that no woman should ever have to go through. While we like to reassure women that incidents like this are relatively few and far between, nonetheless a woman has been raped and the man responsible is still at large. So women should be very careful when getting into taxis and make sure they are legitimate.”

It is believed the woman had enjoyed a night out in Manchester before returning to a friend’s house and then leaving to look for a taxi home.

Police describe the rapist as an Asian male, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, with an Indian accent and short dark hair that was gelled back. He wore jeans with a grey or blue hoody and drove a small white van with luminous yellow and orange stripes on the side.

The attack has caused outrage among genuine taxi drivers and prompted police to issue safety advice to prevent the rapist striking again. Taxi drivers have also said only black cabs can be flagged down as genuine private hire cabs cannot pick up off the street without being booked.

They also have yellow plates on the back and front and yellow stickers on both sides of the vehicle.

Kevin Breegan, from Hazel Grove cab firm Eurolynx, said: “Our lads are on the ball for spotting rogue drivers and we are going to be even more vigilant now. We are outraged that something like this can happen in Stockport and the public and taxi drivers alike need to be vigilant before this cancer spreads.”

Roger Norman, of Roger Norman Taxis, added: “Some people are doing it (bogus cab driving) to make money and there’s sexual predators that do it and give taxi drivers a bad name. They are opportunists.  It is absolutely disgusting. You get a predator like this who is looking for women who are out on their own and vulnerable late at night.”

A Stockport Council spokesman said all taxi drivers must carry Council-issued ID and anyone can request to inspect it.

He added: “We are extremely concerned to hear of this serious incident. We regularly carry out enforcement activities to ensure that only licensed drivers operate in Stockport.  We would welcome any evidence from the public if they suspect that either a driver or vehicle is not licensed.”

Hazel Grove councillor Kevin Hogg said: “We need to catch him and catch him quickly.  He will strike again – it won’t be a one off if he knows he can get away with it.”

In appealing for witnesses, detectives have also advised women to stay in groups, look confident, avoid short cuts or walking near bushes or buildings and stick to well-used routes.

Anyone with information can contact Stockport CID on 856 9680 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.