Victim of Woolston car theft charged over $500 to have vehicle returned

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Feb 14, 2023 |

A man who had his car stolen and then charged over $500 to have his vehicle returned says victims of car theft shouldn’t have to pay such high costs when they have done nothing wrong.

Christchurch resident Tom says his car was found several hours after being reported stolen from his Woolston workplace.

But by the time police and a tow truck had arrived, the car had been taken again by the thieves.

“It was then found the next day with the culprit caught red-handed, Tom told Chris Lynch Media.

“The police then rang asking for authority to tow, mentioning nothing about impound fees or the length of time to return.”

Tom says he received no correspondence from the police for over a week until last night, despite several attempts to request contact via phone at the police central call line. 

He then contacted the tow company and was told it had not yet been released by the police. 

“Last night an officer finally called back to let us know that the car was released. I questioned the impound fees we were told we had to pay, as it’s stated on the NZTA website that in the event that the car is stolen, only tow fees are to be paid, not impound fees. “

“The officer said this was not the case, and this was also echoed by the tow company in possession.”

The breakdown of fees includes a tow charge of $193.57, a daily impound rate of $24.38/day, and a admin fee of $42.40.

Tom says at the first chance available to get the car back, the fees to do so currently sit at $519.94, and this increases every day.

“This is through absolutely no fault of our own and seems such a slap in the face to not only expect victims of crime to have to pay, but to also further charge them if they don’t have the means to come up with the significant amount of money.’”

Tom says the fact that he was charged storage (impound) fees without the option of getting his car back straight away is ‘ludicrous’. 

“There was no explanation other than “it took us a while to get to it because of all the stolen cars”. 

“While I don’t doubt that the police have a heavy workload, I can’t understand why the costs are put on the victim, and why this differs from the NZTA website advice.”

The NZTA website states if a vehicle was stolen or converted, the owner doesn’t have to pay the storage fee but must pay the towing charge.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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