‘To cut a long story short: my car had been seized by a debt recovery agency following an unpaid ticket for a ‘traffic offence’ that had been issued by my local council.
I was here to buy back my car from an auctioneer who had, in turn, purchased it from bailiffs.
I only found out that my car was missing one Saturday morning recently when I went to find it in the street outside my home in South London. It wasn’t where I had left it.
I scanned the road. Four of my neighbours have similar black Golfs. I could see theirs — but not mine.
Nor was there any sign — such as smashed glass on the kerb — to suggest it had been broken into and stolen. Also, the car has an immobiliser and I had both the keys in my bag.
Suddenly I began to panic. Had I driven it somewhere and forgotten where I had left it? Perhaps I’d parked it in a neighbouring road and my mind was playing tricks.
With a growing feeling of fury, I begrudgingly called 101, the non-emergency police number to report my vehicle as stolen.
This was the kind of hassle that has made me not very keen on cars. As a teenager, I wasn’t much fussed about learning to drive. I figured, as a city-dweller, it’s usually quicker, easier and less stressful to take public transport.
But I then learned to drive in my mum’s car. Driving someone else’s vehicle taught me to be careful and I’ve I’ve had no points on my licence and only one parking ticket in the ten or so years since passing my test.
As I waited on the phone to be connected to the police, I thought through what life would be like without a car if mine never turned up.
‘Certainly, I would save money, because motorists get fleeced. We all know driving is expensive — my council parking permit is more than £200 per year, then there’s the car tax, insurance, petrol etc.
At last, a police operator answered. Having told him about my missing car, he asked: ‘Are there any parking restrictions on your road?’ I told him there are but that I had the correct permit, an MoT, full insurance and a valid tax disc.
‘Oh,’ said the operator, who, had checked my number-plate with the DVLA. ‘Your car has been seized for an unpaid parking offence.’
I was mystified. I hadn’t got any parking tickets — and if I had, I would have paid straight away.
So I pressed a little further.’’
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