THE owner of a moped has hit out after he returned home from holiday to find the vehicle had been stolen and destroyed – only to have to pay hundreds of pounds to get it out of storage.
Ian Barrass-Sykes was on holiday in Iceland when the moped he uses to get to work was stolen from outside his home in Columba Road, Blackhall on June 14.
The moped, valued at £500, which Ian had only just bought, was parked in the garden when it was stolen, wheeled down to nearby Ravelston Park and destroyed.
When Ian returned from holiday, he received a letter to say the moped had been removed from the park under the instruction of the Chief Constable.
It added he would have to pay £270 to Robert W Brownlie Motor Engineers in Sighthill, where the moped was in storage – and that failure to pay would lead to the vehicle being sold or scrapped.
The firm had charged £20 a day for storage and an additional £150 for the recovery.
Ian, who initially refused to pay the fee, said: “I feel that as a victim of crime I am being punished twice – once by having my moped stolen and twice by having to pay Brownlies to recover a useless moped.
“I called Brownlies and they said they wouldn’t release the bike unless I pay up and if I don’t pay today then they will charge me another £20 per day until I do.
“They say they are bound by rules, but these rules mean even if a vehicle is stolen, you have to pay the same fees as one that has been impounded for a traffic incident.
“This is against all natural justice – I feel that they have stolen it again.
“Brownlies were saying if I didn’t pay they will keep charging me an additional £20 a day and then take me to court. To me it seems wrong that they can keep hold of my property.”
Ian, who said he chose to take out only third party insurance for the vehicle because of its relatively lower value, eventually paid the full amount.
Some insurance companies do cover the cost of the vehicle being put in to storage if stolen.
Ian’s neighbour Moira McKenzie said: “It seems that the public should be informed that being the victim of crime can come with costs that one might not expect.
“If Ian had been on holiday for two weeks then he would have been charged £20 per day for the storage of his worthless vehicle.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said when a vehicle is found in a vulnerable state the police had a duty of care to prevent further damage, adding reasonable efforts were made to contact the owner.
He said: “Clearly we recognise the inconvenience caused when this is unsuccessful.
“In such cases it is often necessary to request the services of a contractor to secure the vehicle. Once the vehicle is off the ground and secured to the recovery vehicle, then the contractor is entitled to a fee.
“If the person is sufficiently insured they can recover the cost from their insurance as a victim of crime.”
A spokesman for Robert W Brownlie declined to comment. The Office of Fair Trading, Citizens Advice Bureau, Which? and MoneySavingExpert.com all denied to comment on the policy.