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Why do the police remove vehicles when they find them?

If your vehicle is not removed it could be re-stolen or damaged.  It could even be used to commit other crime.  The vehicle may also have been left in a dangerous place where it could injure or obstruct members of the public.

We may also forensically examine the vehicle as part of the investigation.


What powers do the police have to remove stolen vehicles from where they find them?

Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 authorises the police to remove vehicles that are illegally, dangerously or obstructively parked or abandoned or broken down, whether or not they have been stolen.


Can anyone else remove vehicles?

Traffic wardens and PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) have the same power as police officers to remove vehicles. The local authority has a duty to remove abandoned vehicles that are not of interest to the police.


Why can’t I make my own arrangements to recover my car?

Police officers who discover a stolen vehicle will try to stay with it until it is recovered. This prevents it from being stolen again, vandalised or used for other criminal purposes.  Owners are not always immediately available and may not be able or willing to attend at once. 

The vehicle may not be safe just to drive away or may need to be examined before it is used again. 

Police contracted operators have to meet specified standards. Membership of a breakdown club may not be able to provide a guaranteed speed of service and safe removal.


Will I have to pay if the police recover my stolen vehicle?

There are statutory fees that you are legally required to pay. They are decided by the Home Office.

The storage period begins at noon on the first day after your vehicle's removal. This is to allow the vehicle operator sufficient time to notify you that your vehicle is ready for collection. No VAT is payable on these fees.


Who do I have to pay?

The fees are made payable to the vehicle recovery operator who has collected your vehicle. They are acting as agents on behalf of West Midlands Police.


How much profit do the police make from the recovery scheme?

None. The fees meet the costs of removal and storage.


The police have told me my vehicle was seized under PACE, what does this mean?

This means that we have seized your vehicle as it is vital to an investigation. This may be during the theft or prior to the vehicle being recovered. This also means that you can only collect your vehicle once we release it.  We will pay for any recovery and storage costs whilst we retain your vehicle under this category. 

Our intention will always be to release the vehicle as soon as possible and we will advise the vehicle recovery operator to contact you as soon as this is done. 


Will my insurance always cover the costs?

That depends on the particular insurance policy you have chosen, please check with your insurer.


Can the recovery operator charge more than the statutory fees?

The police must release any vehicle they have removed on payment of the fees. If payment of the fees is covered by your insurance, your insurer may agree to pay more if the removal was particularly difficult or involved specialist equipment.


What happens if I do not contact the recovery operator?

If there is no contact from the seized vehicle’s owner or last known keeper within seven days of being notified of its recovery, the police can dispose of a vehicle.  This can be by sale or scrapping it. 

It is the owner’s responsibility to collect the vehicle in this time. Any profit from the sale, after recovery and disposal costs, is payable to the owner if claimed within a year.


I do not want to reclaim my vehicle.  Do I still have to pay?

If the police remove your vehicle they are entitled to recover the statutory fees. If you do not reclaim your vehicle, you may lose your claim to any items you had in it. The only items from the vehicle that you can always have back, without payment are:

  • Medicines and medical equipment – (Medicine must be in the original packaging and prescribed to you)
  • Cash, credit cards, cheque books, pension or benefit books
  • Keys, such as house or shop keys
  • Immediately required outer clothing such as a raincoat or jumper
  • High value items and large amounts of cash which you may have had in your vehicle, are not included and you will be required to provide proof of ownership.

You will not be able to reclaim any items that are part of the vehicle such as radios, speakers and alloy wheels.