It's not unusual to misplace your car keys. But what about your car? It seems that one Coventry motorist has done just that, and racked up more than £14,000 in car park charges as a result.
The black Mercedes S-Class has been languishing at the Broadway Plaza car park in Birmingham for an astonishing three years, accumulating charges at £13 per day.
Mysteriously, the car is unlocked, but damage to the rear axle means it can't be driven away. The log-book is inside, but efforts to track down the owner have failed, and police say the car will be towed within the week if the owner can't be found.
There are no records of the car having been stolen or involved in any crime - and there are no dead bodies in the boot.
"West Midlands Police were made aware of the vehicle in the event that it may have been stolen. However, police records confirmed otherwise," a spoksman for car park owner APCOA told the Birmingham Mail.
"The police recommended APCOA write to Birmingham City Council to request the removal of the abandoned vehicle. Approximately four months ago, APCOA requested the removal of the vehicle, but to this day nothing has been forthcoming. We will follow up the abandoned vehicle request in the coming days."
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It's easy enough to report an abandoned vehicle through a government website. However, this isn't always enough to get it removed straightaway. Once it's reported as abandoned, authorities will attempt to contact the owner and give tham an opportunity to remove it - usually seven days, but sometimes as little as 24 hours. If the car is a danger to the public, it may be towed away immediately.
However, things aren't quite so simple if, as in the case of the Mercedes, the car is parked on private land - in which case the owner of the land has responsibility.
There are a number of reasons a vehicle can be abandoned. Often, it's simply because it wouldn't be cost-effective to tax and insure it - something unlikely to be the case with the Birmingham Merc.
Just last month, a vastly more valuable car - a white Lamborghini Countach worth £250,000 - was abandoned on Tower Bridge during the evening rush hour, causing chaos. In this case, the car had simply run out of petrol. However, when police traced the owner, it was discovered that he was wanted on harassment charges, and the man was promptly arrested.
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