'I'm a victim twice' says owner of stolen scooter slapped with recovery fee

CRIME VICTIM: Ned Sproston with the scooter which had been stolen

CRIME VICTIM: Ned Sproston with the scooter which had been stolen

First published in News by

A VICTIM of theft has had to pay to be get his stolen scooter back, despite it being recovered by police only a few hundred metres from his home.

Ned Sproston, 38, a home tutor for Bradford Council, has complained he has been "made to suffer twice" after he reported the scooter missing from outside his flat at All Saint's Court, Ilkley.

Police found the vehicle about five hours later in Beanlands Parade, approximately 300 yards from Mr Sproston's front door, and contacted him to say it had been taken to a storage yard in Keighley, more than 11 miles away.

He was then told he must pay a standard £150 fee to collect the bike, an expense he said will not be covered by his third party insurance.

"The police made no attempt to contact me, and if they had, I would have walked round the corner to get the bike and bring it back," Mr Sproston said.

"It is only worth about £500, so it's not worth having anything more than third party insurance, which won't cover this cost.

"They are spending people’s money without their say-so, and charging someone who has been the victim of a crime.”

Mr Sproston said although the scooter's front panel had been damaged, it could have "easily" been wheeled back to his flat without any need for recovery, adding that no forensic examinations had been done by the time he collected the vehicle.

"I was livid," he said. "Police should not be empowered to charge for recovery when it blatantly doesn't need doing.

"It would have been so simple for me to get the bike back, and the charge comes directly after you've just had your vehicle stolen, it's a real kick when you're already down."

Mr Sproston has written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in protest against the recovery policy, but Paula Rodgers, acting vehicle recovery unit manager at West Yorkshire Police, told the Telegraph & Argus the fee was enforced in accordance with road traffic regulations.

"West Yorkshire Police has a policy to recover all vehicles which are reported as stolen or found abandoned," she said.

"Owners of vehicles recovered in this way will be subject to a recovery and storage charge.

"This is a statutory fee which is set by the Home Office and charged by the contractor.

"In most cases, this can be reclaimed through the owner's insurance policy.

"All stolen or abandoned vehicles are taken to the contractor's depot, as they could be damaged in such a way that they may pose a danger to public safety."

A police spokesman added that forensic examinations on the scooter had been cancelled at Mr Sproston's request as he did not want to pay extra storage charges on the vehicle.

Motoring groups such as the RAC have previously lobbied the Government in an attempt to change the law on recovery fees, and commenting on Mr Sproston's case, a spokesman said: “This does appear to be a little harsh in light of the crime and the value of the stolen vehicle.

"The theory is that by capping recovery costs at £150, it balances out for cases where the costs are either higher or lower.

"Clearly vehicle theft can be a costly and distressing experience for all motorists, but this case does make you question if a little discretion could not be used.”

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