Lost or stolen vehicles
Here you'll find details on how the police deal with the lost or stolen vehicles we find.
If we find a vehicle that's been reported lost or stolen we move it to a police pound for safekeeping.
This includes vehicles reported stolen in any part of the UK or in EU member states that are part of the Schengen Information System.
We treat all lost or stolen vehicles we find as abandoned vehicles and remove them to:
- protect the vehicle from damage or arson
- prevent the vehicle from being stolen again
- prevent the vehicle from being used in a crime or anti-social behaviour
- make sure it isn’t an obstruction or danger to other road users
You can collect your vehicle straight away; we may take the opportunity while it’s at the pound to carry out a forensic examination, but that won’t prevent you collecting it immediately.
If your vehicle was stolen we strongly recommend that you take it to a garage for an inspection before you drive it yourself. It may have been damaged while it was being driven by the thief.
The owner, or their agent, is liable for the statutory removal and storage charges.
We won't release the vehicle until the charges have been paid.
We'll dispose of the vehicle after 14 days, if it hasn't been collected.
The legal basis for imposing these charges is explained in the House of Commons briefing paper Police charges for removing and storing vehicles.
The statutory charges are set by the Home Office in the Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicles (Prescribed Sums and Charges) Regulations 2008.
The charges vary according to the type, size, position and condition of the vehicle. Storage charges start at midday on the day after the vehicle was removed.
The purpose of the charges is to cover our costs when we remove the vehicle to a place of safety.
In most cases the vehicle insurer will pay the charge, depending on the level of cover and the specific circumstances. We can't give you any advice on this.
How to collect your vehicle
We'll send a notice letter to the registered keeper and/or owner of the vehicle, giving instructions on how to arrange collection. For further information, go to our impounded vehicles page.
We strongly recommend that you call the recovery operator (the phone number's on the notice letter) and make an appointment to collect the vehicle. This may prevent a wasted journey and reduce your waiting time.
If you've made an insurance claim for a stolen vehicle, you must speak to your insurer before arranging collection. The insurance company may have a claim to the vehicle and want to pay the charges and collect it themselves.
If you've already sent your V5C (registration document) to the insurance company, we'll need written confirmation from the insurer that you're authorised to collect the vehicle.
You may collect the vehicle immediately, but we can't release it until pound staff have checked the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). They can't do it if the vehicle is locked.
If the vehicle is locked and you don't have a key, or if your key won't open it, we'll arrange for a locksmith to gain entry. We won’t release the vehicle to you until we've done this. It may take several days.