Thanks to the wonders of the internet I found out via US blogger Coyote about events in Richmond upon Thames. I used to go into Richmond every Saturday with a gaggle of other eleven year old girls to shop for three hours and eventually buy a notebook with a picture of a cat on it for seventeen and a half pence. Perhaps the place has gone downhill since I knew it: now it seems that the police of Richmond are taking valuables from unlocked cars “to drive home an anti-theft message.” It’s all right, you get your valuables back. Eventually. But you have to go round to the station to do it. You know, in some circumstances, that might be troublesome.
Can anyone versed in the laws of England explain whether this is, if not theft, at least “taking without the owner’s consent”, as the charge sheets for joyriders used to say?
On the same theme, Longrider has a story about the police in Northamptonshire impounding cars if the same car with foreign plates is seen twice more than six months apart. A Mr West writes:
I live in Spain for about seven months of the year and France for the other five. My Spanish-registered car was impounded in March after two short visits to the UK within nine months of each other.
At the start of 2009, a pilot scheme called Operation Andover started in Northamptonshire, with any foreign vehicle seen just twice, more than six months apart, being impounded without warning.
Once again, Mr West got his car back, eventually. But he had to fight not to pay a fee of several hundred pounds. As he points out, an enormously common reason for a foreign registered car being seen twice in the same place a year apart might be, not the effort to evade paying UK road tax that the police seem (pretend?) to suspect, but regular visitors coming to Britain at about the same time every year.