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Towed or stolen?

Published: 9:19PM Wednesday June 03, 2009 Source: Fair Go

Reporter: Kevin Milne

Michelle Banks, who had parked her car in central Wellington to go and see the Cuba Street Carnival, returned to find it gone. She called the Wellington City Council who told her that the car wasn't on their record of cars they'd had towed and put her through to the police.

The police checked their record of towed cars reported from all towing firms. Her car wasn't on it. So she reported it stolen.

Michelle's insurance company told her she had to wait two weeks in case the car turned up, but after two weeks it hadn't, so AMI paid her out and she bought a new car.

A week later a bill from a towing firm arrived in Michelle's letter box telling her that her car had been towed and it had been left on a little street next to Te Papa. Clearly her car hadn't been stolen, it had been towed by council for being on a road closed off because of the carnival. Then a series of tickets arrived for parking offences committed after the car had been towed.

Michelle complained to council but got nowhere - she then contacted Fair Go.

Fair Go wanted to know why council told Michelle her car hadn't been towed when it had. And why it had taken them so long to tell her where her car was.

The Wellington City Council now accepts that one of its staff made an error in not recording that they had ordered the Michelle's car be towed and not contacting the police they had done so. WCC had agreed to waive the parking tickets and pay her the $250 excess she had to pay in making an insurance claim.

If you find your car missing in town and don't know if it's been towed or stolen, first check for signs with towies' phone numbers on.

If you left the car on the side of the road, ring council and check if they towed it. If they didn't, call the police.

If they havn't been notified go home and call tow firms one at a time. If no-one knows the whereabouts of your car, report it as stolen to the police and ring your insurance company.

Most tow firms will contact the police to let them know they've towed a vehicle and where it now is. But according to the police, they don't have to.

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