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Theft victim fights $33-a-day fee to store stolen jet ski

Luke Buckel is embroiled in a dispute with the police and an Ipswich tow company over a fee to collect his stolen jet ski.
Luke Buckel is embroiled in a dispute with the police and an Ipswich tow company over a fee to collect his stolen jet ski. Rob Williams

LUKE Buckel's story should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who ever has a vehicle stolen.

The Ipswich real estate agent is engaged in an ongoing dispute with police and a towing company after being hit with a huge bill for collecting his jet ski.

Mr Buckel is refusing to pay the bill, which has surpassed $2000, based on his claim that he was never notified that he would be charged a $33 a day holding fee.

"I'm in this position because my jet ski was stolen and now I feel like I'm being robbed again," Mr Buckel said.

"Nobody ever told me about the charge. If they did I would have been down there with lights and sirens."

Although the police and tow company, BST, dispute Mr Buckel's claim, it is hard not to sympathise with the father of four.

A thief helped himself to Mr Buckel's jet ski and trailer - which was parked in the garage of his mother's Bundamba house - in April last year.

It wasn't until March this year that the craft was found and the thief brought to justice, but Mr Buckel was forced to wait another four-and-a-half months until his jet ski was allowed to be released.

It is at this point that the version of events according to the victim, the police and the tow yard varies.

According to the normal procedure for recovered stolen vehicles, the police send a letter to the tow yard and the victim - at the same time - to notify them the vehicle is available for collection.

This letter, of which BST has retained a copy but Mr Buckel claims to have never received, also notifies of a daily holding fee that will apply if the vehicle is not collected within 48 hours.

While Mr Buckel confirmed he was notified by police via email on July 31 that the jet ski was ready, he said he wasn't told he would be charged if he didn't pick it up within 48 hours.

As a result, he took some time to arrange secure storage for the jet ski so it wouldn't be stolen again.

"I rang BST on August 22 and was told it would cost me $660 to release it," Mr Buckel said.

"I was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a charge per day. I think it is unfair.

"I'm not a hoon; this was stolen from me. And I have chased that ski to the point where I almost gave up on it."

BST owner Trevor Davis said he felt sorry for Mr Buckel, but said the responsibility for notifying the owners of stolen property ready for pick-up rested with police.

"Police will contact us when a stolen vehicle is located," Mr Davis said.

"We bring it back here - unless it's a really serious case - and the forensic officers come to the yard to take fingerprints.

"It is then up to the police to advise the owner that the vehicle has been located."

In the weeks that have passed since that phone call in August, the bill has climbed to $2190 and counting.

Ipswich Inspector Keith McDonald said police would be willing to listen to Mr Buckel's side of the story.

"The best thing he can do is write to the officer in charge of Ipswich station," Insp McDonald said.

"If we have made a blue, we'll pick up the costs. However, if we've got proof that we've done everything properly then I'm afraid he's whistling Dixie into the wind, because simply claiming you didn't receive a letter is not a defence."

Topics:  crime, police, stolen goods, theft




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