A mum whose car was pinched by a man dressed in an Incredible Hulk mask has spoken of her disbelief — after being charged £150 to get it back.
Lindsay Mitchell was left bewildered when police told her to cough up the cash for her Nissan Duke, which was towed away after being chased and dumped in Lytham.
The charge for recovering stolen cars is set nationally across forces and their partner firms which collect cars for them.
The blanket charge means mum Lindsay has been left well out of pocket.
The 40-year-old mum-of-two said: “I can’t actually believe they would do that.
“I was really thankful at first and really grateful the police took me to get the car, but then they asked if I had any money on me.
“I asked, ‘Are you joking?’”
Lindsay, a nursery nurse at Unity Academy in Warbreck Hill Road, North Shore, also condemned the two men seen running away from her white car last Tuesday afternoon, hours after it had been stolen.
She raged: “They are lowlives. They are scumbags and I’m the one who’s out of pocket at the end of the day.”
The brazen thieves, who are believed to have worn socks on their hands to avoid leaving fingerprints, are thought to have sneaked into Lindsay’s home in Layton, at around 4am last Tuesday.
They searched the house before finding a spare key for the £17,500 Nissan, bought new in 2013, in a box kept in the kitchen, Lindsay said.
They did not take anything else and escaped in her car, she added.
It was hours later, when Lindsay and her sons Jorge, 11, and Max, nine, were getting ready for work and school that they noticed the car was gone.
Jorge, a St Chad’s pupil in Poulton, went to get his schoolbag from the car — but couldn’t find it.
“He asked if I had moved the car but I said no,” Lindsay said.
“I thought he was winding me up at first.”
After realising he wasn’t, Lindsay called police, who sent forensic experts round to her home to look for clues.
Traffic officers later spotted the Nissan and gave chase in Waterloo Road, South Shore, a spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said.
Following what officers described as a ‘short pursuit’, the car was abandoned by the two men, who ran off and are still at large.
It was later loaded on to a Macadams recovery truck and taken to a depot in Vicarage Lane, Marton.
After being taken to collect her car — and paying to get it back — Lindsay found the Incredible Hulk mask, and the two odd socks.
“They had obviously used them on their hands,” she said. “They weren’t even matching!”
Lindsay said officers told her three other cars were stolen across the Fylde coast the same night, while jewellery was also taken from a house close to hers during a break in.
She added: “I have lived here for a year and I have not had any problems.
“The street is really quiet, you never seen anybody knocking about, that’s why this was a shock.
“It just shows you have to be careful. This has made me more aware now.
“You never know who’s out there. The police said I wasn’t targeted, they said I was just unlucky and they will let me know if they find out who did it.”
A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “We do not leave abandoned stolen cars at the roadside as they could be causing an obstruction, be unsafe, or at risk of being stolen again. The charge for these vehicles being recovered is set nationally, which we have no involvement with.
“This charge would be a matter between the vehicle owner or their insurance company, and the recovery garage.”