Double blow for burglary victim

Windermere Place Moss Bank St Helens
Windermere Place Moss Bank St Helens

A BURGLARY victim has told of her shock after she was charged £150 for the return of her two cars after they were seized for forensic examination.

Mother-of-one Katy Ashton couldn’t praise the police highly enough after they chased down a gang of burglars who had stolen hundreds of pounds worth of electrical items from her home - before making a getaway in one of her cars.

But the 25-year-old, of Clinkham Wood, says she was then quoted a £300 release fee for the return of her Honda Civic and Renault Laguna from a vehicle rescue and recovery centre in Bootle, Liverpool.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got charged a release fee for my cars - it’s an absolute disgrace. I felt as if I had been robbed twice.

“I managed to persuade them to reduce the fee from £300 to £150, but I’m still out of pocket. It took a week for me to get the cars back too. I want to warn other people not to fall into the same trap.”

Four burglars raided Ms Ashton’s Windermere Place home at about 5.30am on February 1, stealing Playstation and Wii games consoles, computer games, a laptop and a camera.

Ms Ashton was asleep upstairs at the time, as was her two-year-old daughter, Fearne.

But a neighbour dialled 999 after seeing the gang use Ms Ashton’s car keys to load up her Honda Civic, which was parked outside.

And police managed to chase them down as they tried to make their getaway - eventually detaining them near to St Helens Police Station in College Street.

Two of the men have since been charged and remanded in custody.

Ms Ashton added: “The Honda was seized by the police straight away and they came back to mine for the Renault too because the burglars had initially tried to use that car too. But nobody warned me that I would have to pay a fee to get my cars back. I would never have anticipated that in a million years.

“If I knew that I would be charged just for helping the police then I might not have given them the cars in the first place.”

But Chief Inspector Dave Pryce said: “The policy regarding car collection has been explained to the victim by the officer in charge of the case, and he has stressed to her the need to produce proof of ownership and relevant documentation about vehicle ownership when collecting the vehicle.

“Vehicles seized solely for forensic examination costs the victim nothing, but when the owner will not or cannot collect the vehicle with the necessary documentation to prove ownership it becomes their responsibility, and not the taxpayer.”