CONTROVERSIAL plans to "brand" Ireland's taxis will play right into the hands of burglars, it was claimed today.
Three different designs of branding are being lined up, and all would see a vinyl taxi logo placed on vehicles.
Taxi drivers have reacted furiously after the Herald revealed proposals by transport bosses to introduce a mandatory branding system across the industry.
Drivers will be forced to cough up as much as €250 each to rebrand their cars or face being banned from operating.
But one group representing drivers warned that introducing the branding will make cars much more prone to being burgled.
The National Transport Assembly of Ireland (NTAI) said it has evidence of a spate of taxis being targeted by burglars in an "epidemic" in recent weeks.
The organisation said today that if the new plans to impose a brand or car markings goes ahead, drivers will be at even greater risk of having their vehicles targeted.
"The images that have been published in the Evening Herald are alarming because they are making it even more obvious that a vehicle is a taxi," said the NTAI's Tony Rowe.
"There has been a spate of incidents in recent weeks where taxis are being targeted, so why would the Government want to play into burglars' hands.
"We have learned that over a weekend period in a part of north Dublin, more than a dozen cars were targeted," he added.
"Drivers have contacted us to say that they are now taking down their plates at night because their cars have been targeted."
Mr Rowe said he would be raising the issue this weekend with Junior Transport Minister Alan Kelly.
As revealed by the Herald, three different options of branding are currently being proposed.
•A 'cornered panel' that will be placed on the driver's door and cost €30-€90.
•A 'door diagonal panel', a much larger version covering a significant portion of the vehicle, at a cost of €150-€250.
•A full-length blue and yellow stripe that will also cost €150-250 per vehicle.
Well-placed sources indicated that the third option will be "strongly opposed" as it would make the taxi look like a garda car.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) previously said that the measures were part of a mandatory taxi 'branding' system that will be imposed across the industry.
A spokesman said: "The Taxi Regulation Review provides for the 'branding' of all taxis by means of a semi-permanent decal applied to the vehicle body."