They’d been on the road for almost an hour. The girl remained silent, her fingers buried between her knees as she nervously observed the passing trees.
He looked over at her, and saw how anxious she was feeling. The train station was approaching. He felt a shiver run through his body. He had to act fast.
Satbir Arora was a cab driver who loved his job. He felt like he played a crucial role in many people’s daily lives.
Being a cab driver meant more to Arora than just driving. He considered himself as the one in charge of everyone who entered his car. He had no notion how drastically this mindset would alter his life.
It was a usual Friday morning for Arora. He ate a lovely breakfast with his wife and then began his workday.
He had barely been on the road for 10 minutes when he spotted a young girl in need of his services. The young lady was dressed in her school uniform. Arora smiled as he drew his cab up next to her, oblivious to the fact that things were going to get out of control.
“Where to?” Arora asked the young girl. “Gloucestershire Railway Station, thanks,” the girl said nonchalantly. Arora couldn’t help but wonder as to why she was going there.
“A little far, isn’t it?” he asked, concerned and the girl let out a laugh. Arora stared back at her, and she averted his gaze. Was there a problem?
It was very rarely that Arora had passengers for over an hour, and the young girl’s stop was over two hours away. What also stood out to him was that she was not accompanied by an adult. Arora would have to investigate further.
“Do your folks know where you’re going?” he calmly inquired. The girl shuffled uncomfortably and nodded. That reaffirmed his concerns, something was definitely not right.
The girl had a worried expression on her face. Despite the fact that Arora had never interfered in the affairs of his customers before, he felt compelled to do so here.
“What’re you going to do at the station, traveling somewhere?” he inquired. The girl nodded once more, and as he kept his gaze fixed on her, she conveyed something that increased his anxiety even more.
“I’m meeting a friend,” the girl defensively responded. Arora knew that she was concealing something and asked, “Do your parents know about this friend?” She merely nodded, making it clear that she did not want to have this conversation.
Arora felt guilty for pressuring the young girl so much, so he decided to rather focus on the road. He noticed the girl’s discomfort as they approached their destination.
The young girl started gathering her things as soon as she spotted the train station. She jumped out of the cab before Arora could even park.
Arora watched as she walked to the entrance. It was clear to him that she felt uncomfortable, and he needed to help her.
He couldn’t abandon her in this state. Arora received no response from the girl. But he thought maybe his wife would know what to do. He promptly called his wife and informed her of the predicament.
She confirmed that she also felt like something was amiss with the girl. She requested to talk to the her on the phone. She had to get her to open up, and she would do anything she could to make the girl feel comfortable enough to do so.
Arora approached the girl and gave her the phone. He kindly told her, “I have someone here who’d like to talk to you, it would mean a lot to me if you talked to her. Please.”
The girl paused for a second before taking the phone and answering it. When his wife started speaking, Arora noticed a shift in her voice. The girl seemed to understand what his wife was saying to her and partook in the conversation.
If the girl seemed nervous before, now she looked scared. She passed the phone back to Arora and stepped closer to him, her eyes darting all over the station.
“It is bad,” Arora’s wife divulged over the phone. “She’s meeting someone she’s been talking to over the internet. She’s anxious about meeting him because she’s a minor. Call the police, Satbir.”
Arora didn’t hesitate to call the police. His sight tried to follow the girl’s, to see who she was looking for. This morning, the station was busy. Arora couldn’t pinpoint any suspicious person in the crowd.
The police arrived shortly. The person Arora’s passenger was meeting was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he came and saw the cop cars and got spooked. Arora had a genius plan to corner him.
“Mind giving me the lad’s number,” Arora asked the girl, and she handed it over. Arora called the number, and the man picked up before immediately canceling.
Although the man canceled the call, Arora got him where he wanted him. He unmasked the man’s identity by working with the police and the railway station surveillance team.
The police identified the man as Sam Hewings. He was a dangerous twenty-four-year-old predator who’d made a habit of luring children and kidnapping them.
More was discovered about the man, revealing his intentions with Arora’s passenger. His online chat logs were incriminating evidence that helped the jury come to a sound decision about his sentence.
Arora shared that he’d attended safeguarding training some months before the incident. What he’d learned then helped him save the little girl.
Gloucestershire Police granted him the highest honor in the police. To Arora, knowing that the girl reached home safely was a good enough prize. He only hopes that more cab drivers will undergo the training to defuse these dangerous situations before they escalate.