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Car theft in Forest Hill - a warning ...

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Joined 02-2005
Posted on Thursday, 24 February, 2005 - 01:19 pm:   

Hi everyone!

Just thought I should share our tale of woe so that you can be forewarned of the dangers. It also tells a sorry story about the state of policing. Read on...

Last week our rental car was stolen from outside our property on Perry Vale. There are no parking restrictions in front of our place, so we were shocked. The car had been there the night before and we still had the key!

Our dealings with the rental company were a textbook case of rubbish British customer service - they didn't seem to care, didn't believe us, and weren't prepared to rent us another one despite saying they would charge us the full deductible (500!).

The police were no better. We could only speak to a call centre who gave us a temporary case number and said we would be called back (we're still waiting..)

But it gets more incredible....

We finally decided to call Lewisham on the off-chance that they had taken it (although we couldn't imagine why!). Well, imagine our surprise when they said they hadn't taken it but they had received a call to say that British Gas workers had reported it parked on a street on which they were trying to do some work!

So we rushed over to said street (also in Forest Hill, but about 15 min walk from our place). The British Gas guys were there and said that a woman on the street had been awaken at 2am by a tow-truck dropping the car off in the street! And they also said that a guy had just been there with a locksmith to try to get into the car. So we found the car! It was open and they had toyed with the ignition and imobilizer when they tried to start it, which then damaged the imobilizer and made it impossible to start with our key.

We called the police again, and they said that this kind of thing had been happening in the area for the past couple of days. But they also said that they couldn't spare the manpower to have some police watch the car to catch the returning thieves!!!! Can you believe it??? We were practically handing them the criminals and they still couldn't be bothered.

In the course of time, we had an AA guy take the car to be repaired, and as we were driving away in the AA tow-truck, a black people carrier pulled up and 4 guys got out, one holding a small piece of equipment (I'm guessing the new imobilizer piece so that they could drive the car away). The looks on their faces told a real story as we towed away the car they thought they had nabbed. We got the licence number of their vehicle, but as we still haven't heard from the police, I guess they'll be carrying on with their criminal ways with the blessing of the authorities!

The car company still didn't seem to believe our story, and they still refused to rent us another car, despite the fact that we managed to recover their car. They kept using language like "You lost the car"! We were obviously infuriated and insulted (and a lot poorer to boot!)

So that's the story. Thought you should all know. It is possible for people to steal your car without the key. And it seems the police really couldn't care less.
Joined 02-2005
Posted on Thursday, 24 February, 2005 - 04:39 pm:   

As I understand it, if you are convinced a crime is taking place now and you rung 999, if you didnt receive an immediate police response then I would suggest you write to the Borough commander at Lewisham. This is what should be graded as an I 'Immediate' response call. check out

I had to call them once for a motor being broken into as I was watching it from my apartment, I had three cars and a dog van in under 5 minutes flat. So nothing but praise for the Police & System.

As for car rental companies, scum of the earth! along with train ticket inspectors who lack basic manners (but that is a different post)
Joined 02-2005
Posted on Thursday, 24 February, 2005 - 08:21 pm:   

There's also a trade association you can complain to - they should have a consumer code of practice and stuff like that (for the hire company).

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