11/25/2005UK: Police Seize Car from Retired Veteran Over Insurance
A faulty insurance database lead Wales, UK police to seize the car belonging to a man who had done nothing wrong.
Police pulled over and seized the 16-year-old Nissan that belonged to Gordon Osbourn, a 77-year-old war veteran and great grand father who had done nothing wrong. Although Osbourn was fully insured, police said his insurance details did not come up on their computer. When questioned about it, Osbourn was so frustrated that he gave the name of his previous insurance company to police.
"I was so stressed I could have had a heart attack," Osbourn told the Daily Post. "This should serve as a warning, both to the police and to motorists, that computers aren't always right. It's worrying that you can have your car taken away when you've done nothing wrong."
Sylvia Osbourn, his wife, was unable to find a copy of their insurance policy before a tow truck arrived to haul away their vehicle. Initially, police would not release his car unless Osbourn paid £105 (US $180), but after a long argument his car was released without charge.
A North Wales police spokesman blamed the insurance company for the seizure. "It is the responsibility of the insurance companies to update the (Police National Computer) which is why other checks are also routinely made."
In the US, several Texas cities have adopted similar seizure policies. Most recently San Antonio approved an ordinance allowing any police officer to take the vehicle belonging to anyone he believes to be uninsured. The ordinance goes into effect January 1.