Victims pay to get stolen cars back

VICTIMS of car crime are being forced to shell out for getting their vehicles back.

Tom Potter

VICTIMS of car crime are being forced to shell out for getting their vehicles back.

Three motorists whose cars were stolen have contacted The Evening Star in less than a week to complain that despite their vehicles being recovered by police, they now face the prospect of paying to have them returned.

Suffolk Constabulary is among a majority of forces in England and Wales that has opted to charge motorists more than �100 to retrieve their stolen cars and further charges for night storage.

Incensed driver Noel Gearing had his Ford Escort stolen at the end of May - little more than a year after thieves stole his previous car from outside his Upland Road home in Ipswich.

The 65-year-old gave up on getting both cars back after finding out about the �150 retrieval fee.

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"If you don't pay it they more or less hold you to ransom by charging you for every day," said Mr Gearing.

"It seems you get exploited when your car is stolen.

"I told them to keep both cars because I simply can't afford to get them back. I feel numbed by the whole thing."

Suffolk police said the legislation, which has been in force since 1989 and prevents cars being re-stolen or damaged, allows officers to remove stolen cars found in a dangerous position or when officers are unable to contact the owner. But some car owners are forced to pay a retrieval fee to the companies which recover vehicles for the police.

Colin Wade's Ford Fiesta was also stolen from outside his house in Siloam Place, Ipswich, on June 2.

Police later found the car dumped in the town and it was kept at a garage where Mr Wade went to pick it up.

"I don't understand the justice in having to pay to get your property back," he said.

Kate Grant, 31, of Bruff Road, Ipswich, had to pay �150 to have her Ford Mondeo returned to her at the end of May after it was stolen and used in a robbery.

Police found the damaged car in Portman Road and took it away for forensic investigation but Miss Grant was reluctant to pay the retrieval fee.

"I was able to claim the fee on my insurance," she said, "But I also had to claim �1,500 for the damage."

Do you think the legislation is fair? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail