About six weeks back, some delightful people dumped a stolen car in our car park and torched it. The AFP and Fire Brigade attended at the time, and we were told at that point the car had already been reported stolen before it turned up on fire in our car park. I rang the AFP two days later and enquired who was responsible for disposing of the car, and was told it was the owner or the car’s problem. A week later it was still in our car park, so I rang the AFP and they said they would get in touch with the owner again and ask them to remove the vehicle. (And by the way, I believe them when they said they would call, I’ve had a number of positive experiences with the AFP and I have the kind of job where I have to call them about something on average once a month.)
Now unfortunately, you can’t just dispose of any old vehicle you like, you have to be able to prove that you are the legal owner of the vehicle and that you have the right to dispose of it. If you can’t prove that, there are processes which have to be followed.
After about two weeks of this car sitting in our car park, the standard fax was sent to the Canberra Rangers/Canberra Connect declaring the car abandoned and requesting it be removed. (We expected to be charged a fee for this, but were happy to wear it just to get the car out of the car park.)
A month after that the car was still there so I called the Canberra Rangers, only to be told that as the car is on private property, they can’t remove it. I was told I would have to seek legal advice and proceed through the “Unclaimed Goods” Act, which involves taking out advertisements in the local paper asking the owner to come forward, before then applying to the courts to have it declared that we have the legal right to dispose of the car.
This is a rather frustrating situation. I can’t find out who owns the car and track them down, but the Rangers could, so I do feel they are in a much better position to sort this out than I am.
If the tyres hadn’t melted, I would be sorely tempted to just roll the car out to the road verge and leave it there on public property, where it then becomes something the Rangers could deal with.
I would very much like to play things by the book and work within the system, but systems have to be sensible and usable before they can be followed and it seems ridiculous that I have to get the lawyers involved to sort out what I am assuming is a fairly common problem.
Has anyone else ever had to sort out getting rid of an abandoned car on private property?