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Abandoned car notification

FROM: Andy Sutton

What NEED does this meet?
This would beneift people who have had their cars stolen, people who have abandonded cars lurking near them that eventually get smashed and burned, and the hard working police

What is the APPROACH?
This is an idea I had ages ago, that there should be a website where people who notice what appear to be abandoned cars log the reg number somewhere, then people who have had their car stolen can look and then find out where there car is. Studys show that abandoned cars don't get vandalised straight away, but the police don't have the resources to retrieve cars or even notify owners where they are, so cars lurk until they are vandalised and often burned. The insurance value is never as much as the car is worth to the owner, so we just need some speedy way to macth cars with owners. The location of cars would not be public - the owner would have to be validated somehow before they were told where the car is.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
People get their car back, not the insurance value - fewer burned out cars in residential and other areas - police freed up to d other things

What is the COMPETITION?
I have no idea. I'm not trying to champion this. If there is a better way then that should be done. I don't feel remotely competetive about this. If it's useful it is worth doing.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
It needs server space and programming. Maybe I could do that myself though I'm no pro. It needs publicising to make it work - it will be useful only if it is widely used. I guess it will need some kind of police approval, and mechanisms for validating owners could be difficult if done through official mechanisms, or it could just be a question of giving some identifying features.

November 3, 2003 in Matching System, Perhaps Government Remit?, User Created Content | Permalink


The trouble is that a lot of abandoned cars are not stolen but abandoned because the scrap
value is less than the cost of removing it. Certainly in my area cars are dumped as an alternative
to getting them dealt with properly.

Posted by: Paul at Nov 3, 2003 11:27:37 AM

Paul that is undoubtedly true, so it won't get every abandoned car off the streets, but it would help to get stolen ones back to their owners and reduce the number of abandoned ones, which are the objectives I had in mind. I think anyone who has had a car stolen would welcome this.

Posted by: Andy Sutton at Nov 3, 2003 12:57:10 PM

Liverpool City Council is already doing this for cars abandoned in Liverpool: see
I suggest you talk with them.

Posted by: Miranda Mowbray at Nov 3, 2003 3:18:11 PM

Thanks Miranda - that looks pretty useful - though it seems to be more to do with clearing up than returning cars, and there's no way for an owner to find their vehicle. I imagine a lot of resources must be needed to remove all the cars within 48 hours as stated. I think perhaps my idea could work alongside such a scheme just to give owners a chance of finding their carand not calling on some organisation somewhere to go and get it. What I had in mind could be national, I think, and is really just a cheap-ish web facility.

Posted by: Andy Sutton at Nov 4, 2003 9:29:53 AM

I totally agree, and Miranda Mowbrey's suggestion of approaching the Local Authority is a good one (as long as it is you own). Most if not all Councils should provide this as a service to the public. Using Geographic data and digital maps(that all of them have access to), together with CRM systems in call centres should enable them easily build up a database of abandoned cars, and using a simple map, build up a picture to track routes from location to destination (ie. track likely routes between where the vehicles were stolen, and subsequently abandoned), and from this, idenitfy hotspot areas for particualr times of the day/year, to share with the Police (who also have acces to the same data if they so desire) in order to allocate resouces appropriately to manage the issue - right down to the the level of where to strategically place CCTV cameras on route to try and catch the thieves also (e.g. the main hotspots are car parks, and in particular hospital car parks in many cases so I'm led to believe). If they wish to get clever, then they can correllate this with other data on crime, unemployment, and other socio-economic statistics to not only target these crime areas better, but also predict where they may occur based on nationwide trends.

Like I say, this is not rocket science, or indeed expensive to do this - should be a standard and simple service provided to the citizen. I can comment on this as Ordnance Survey is working with Local Authorities and Emergency Services to help them achieve some of these goals (as we provide the data or tools that can make this happen - we don't just do paper maps!).

(Head of Local Government Strategy)

Posted by: Jon Tyler at Nov 10, 2003 7:32:20 PM

This all sounds great Jon, thanks. I guess what I had in mind was something much simpler and fuelled (ha ha) by users, ie a simple "I know where there is a car" and "where is my car" meeting place facility on the web. I had seen at as national too. The database would be simply built on the site directly by people lodging a notification. If resources were available for the kind of system you describe I'm sure that would be great - though it would require more than a web site and some publicity. Perhaps there are several levels at which a project of this type could be pitched, ranging from simple and cheap to sophisticated and well resourced. Local or national. I think national would be better since costs (if unsophisticated) are not linked to scale - one site, one address, few human beings apart from site visitors.

We already know this could be done by the police or perhaps other bodies, but for whatever reasons (probably perfectly good resource reasons) they don't do it. This could be a cheap project that doesn't meet all needs, and doesn't have all the advantages of sophistication, but could be so cheap that even if it only gets X% of cars back to owners it would be worthwhile. (I have no idea what X might be!). However if money could be found for sophistication and some of the ideas you mention, like tracking routes etc, then brilliant.



Posted by: Andy Sutton at Nov 12, 2003 8:30:58 AM

Just got back from Athens, Greece, where I spotted an abandoned car with UK plates parked on the street. It is a red Mercedes Atlas, T145 NLB. It is parked in front of : 3 Klemenou
in Kolonaki in the centre of Athens. Not very far from the UK embassy actually.
Hope this can be of help.

Posted by: maier at Jan 4, 2005 6:24:31 PM

If we are not carefull we will hear all about this in the next budget as it will be another way to hit the man behind the wheel.

Posted by: John O'Brien at Mar 15, 2005 8:03:02 PM