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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'll arrange for it to be moved to a police registered recovery operator for safekeeping. 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

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. Please note that if your vehicle has been lost or stolen you, or your insurer or the driver (if you weren't the driver at the time), will have to pay the statutory charges. You'll find full details in the Road Traffic Act (Retention and disposal of seized vehicles) Regulations 2005 – amended 2008.

We strongly recommend that you call the recovery operator (the phone number will be in the notice letter) and make an appointment to collect your vehicle. This may prevent a wasted journey and reduce your waiting time. We may take the opportunity while your vehicle's at the recovery garage 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.

Insurance claims

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.


We can't release your vehicle until the recovery operator's staff have checked the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). They can't do that 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 (at your expense). We won’t release the vehicle to you until we've done this. It may take several days.

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