Driver hit with police bill for more than value of stolen car

Robert Hunter with the letter from police laying out charges to collect his wifes stolen 14-year-old Corsa. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Robert Hunter with the letter from police laying out charges to collect his wifes stolen 14-year-old Corsa. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

A DRIVER has been hit with a police bill for as much as his stolen car is worth – after it was found by officers.

Builder Robert Hunter’s 14-year-old Vauxhall Corsa was taken from the forecourt of Zico’s Garage, Leith, during its MOT.

I only bought it for my wife and they could keep it, but even if they scrap it they want the money

ROBERT HUNTER

Police towed the car on March 20 after finding it abandoned in North Junction Street – but it took eight days for Robert to be contacted with a storage bill he worked out at £496.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Robert, 55. “I only bought it for my wife and they could keep it, but even if they scrap it they want the money.

“Why shouldn’t the person who stole it have to pay for it? They should have to pay for it.”

Police said additional costs related to “specialist equipment” needed to recover Robert’s car – while daily fees were often covered by insurance and only begin once forensic tests are done.

The letter belatedly received by Robert on Tuesday – eight days after police towed the car – stated it was removed for causing “an obstruction or danger”.

His Corsa SXI had been “abandoned” or parked illegally, continued the letter – though Robert had reported it stolen – and taken 12 miles to a yard in Loanhead.

“I don’t understand why they took it all the way to Loanhead when there’s another yard five minutes away,” said Robert.

“They must’ve had the keys because they were in it when it was stolen. They could’ve just parked it up or taken it to the police station.”

The letter addressed to Robert at his Granton home lays out the charges incurred since the car was towed.

There was a £150 “removal charge”, an “additional recovery charge” of £186 – thought to be a crane – and £20 per day “storage charge”, adding up to £496 by the time Robert got the letter.

“The car is only worth £500,” said Robert. “I’ve no idea what the additional recovery charges are.”

Addressed from 911 Recovery and bearing Police Scotland’s crest, the letter warns failure to pay will mean the car is sold off for the “Police Fund”.

If the car fetches more than the storage bill, then police will hold on to the surplus to be collected by the owner within a year. But if the car’s sale falls short, then officers can take the owner to court to recover the remainder, warns the letter.

Robert collected the car for £336 after police confirmed daily fees were yet to begin.

A police spokesman said: “Recovered vehicles are held by a contractor while forensic examinations are ongoing and there is no cost to the owner during this time period.

“The owner is liable for the initial recovery cost, for which a standard fee is applied. If specialist equipment is required to recover the vehicle there may be additional costs.

“A daily fee is incurred by the owner once forensic examinations are complete until the vehicle is collected.

“The owner is advised to reclaim this cost, as well as that for the initial recovery, from their insurer.”

andy.shipley@jpress.co.uk