‘I paid £166 to park at Heathrow’s official car park - but returned to find catalytic converter stolen’
They had paid extra to use the long-stay car park while on holiday in Canada
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A family from Bristol returning from holiday were left in disbelief when they discovered their parked car had been written off with essential parts to the engine stolen.
Olive and Amy Clague, from St George, had paid £160 to leave their vehicle in the official long-stay car park while they were in Canada. But on returning on the long-haul flight, the ‘absolutely exhausted’ couple, with their one-year-old son Jack, made the discovery.
The car then had to be towed away and written off as the catalytic converter had been stolen.
Oliver, who works as a TV director, said: “When I got into the car and started it up it made the loudest noise, so I called my friend who’s a mechanic and asked him why the car would sound like that.
“He told me to look under the front and check that nothing is missing, I looked under and could see a pipe that should connect to something with a big gap. He told me that people were going round stealing catalyst converters. I was in shock and disbelief when I went back to my wife and crying baby.
‘’When I told her part of our engine had been stolen she couldn’t quite believe it either. It just didn’t occur to me that my car wouldn’t be safe - the car park is branded as safe and secure on the website with 24/7 patrols.
“We paid more to stay in the official Heathrow secure parking, we care a lot about our car.”
The family pressed an emergency button at the bus stop to summon a parking attendant who “didn’t seem shocked” about the incident. A catalyst converter costs between £150 and £800 on average in the UK, and can be removed from a car relatively easily.
The family was told by the person who towed their car that he had seen this happen to other cars in the car park. The car is now with the family’s insurance, who are assessing the damage.
Oliver said: “After it happened, I Googled it and it’s been reported that it’s happened before. If I had known I never would have parked there, it would have been cheaper to get a taxi.
Oliver emailed Heathrow to make them aware of the incident however Heathrow said they were ‘unable to accept liability and therefore unable to offer a refund of any kind at this time’.
The family did eventually receive a refund for their parking, however feel like they need to “warn others” of the problem.
Oliver added: “All of this has happened because because we tried to find the most secure car park. I just want to warn people not to park there. If Heathrow are saying they’re providing a safe and secure parking service, then how are they not responsible when a part of my car gets stolen.
“It seems like Heathrow don’t care and don’t want to help unless they have to. Even with a refund, £166 doesn’t help fix the car or deal with the stress of not having one at all.”
Heathrow has been approached for a comment.