A HAWORTH woman said she felt like she had been stolen from twice after being hit with a £150 fee to pick up her car from a police compound.

Miriam Wilson, whose Ford Focus was stolen from outside her home, said she would have been willing to collect the car herself from where it was initially found by police after the thieves dumped it.

But she said she was never given this option and was not warned about the £150 charge until it was too late.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I pay my taxes and I work hard, but someone steals my car and I have to pay just to take back what belongs to me. I feel totally shocked."

Miss Wilson, 36, who works as a veterinary nurse, explained the criminals broke into the house where she and her boyfriend live some time between midnight on Monday December 18 and 8am on Tuesday December 19.

She said she believed the thieves hoped to steal her boyfriend's more valuable vehicle, but instead found the keys to her Ford Focus so took that instead.

At 10.30pm last Tuesday she received a call from the police with welcome news that her car had been found abandoned in Heaton, Bradford.

"At the time, I thought 'brilliant'", she said. "The police told me they were waiting for the car to be picked up and taken to the compound, and said it would need to be fingerprinted.

"They said they'd let me know when I could collect the car, and advised me to call back if I hadn't heard from them.

"But at no point was I given the option to collect the car from Heaton myself, which I could have done. And there was no mention of any collection fee from the compound."

Miss Wilson said it was only the following day that she was told she would need to pay £150, with the fee set to rise a further £20 each day from midday of last Thursday (Dec 21) if she did not turn up.

"I was dumbfounded," she said. "I picked up my car and paid the £150, because I didn't want to have to pay even more than that.

"It's cost £250 to have the locks to our house changed, and as the thieves still have the keys to my Ford Focus I'll have to pay to have the car's locks changed, otherwise its insurance will be invalidated.

"The police told me I could claim the £150 back from my car insurance, but I can't because I chose a £350 excess in order to pay a bit less each month.

"I can comprehend paying for locks being changed, but can't understand having to pay to get my own car back from the police.

"When I pushed the police over why I wasn't given the choice to get my car myself from Heaton they were extremely non-committal."

John Prentice, West Yorkshire Police's director of assets and logistics, responded: “It's our policy to recover all stolen vehicles found abandoned, as they may pose a risk to the public. They could also be at risk of being vandalised or even re-stolen.

“Vehicles are recovered to compounds where they can be stored safely pending further examination.

“The charges for recovery and storage are set out in legislation and must be paid for by the owner of the vehicle. However, in most cases insurance companies will meet this cost as part of any claim.”