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Published on : Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Police were summoned when meet-and-greet parking company Gatwick First Parking failed to return more than 100 vehicles to the holidaymakers.
Officers said around 120 vehicles were found to be parked at various sites in Sussex and Surrey, and the car keys left by the travellers before they flew out have been discovered at a Surrey office.
A further 30 keys were found at the firm, which is not a Gatwick-approved meet-and-greet parking company and has no relationship with the airport, but the cars have yet to be found.
Kyle and Libby Augustin, along with their one-year-old twins had returned from a relaxing family holiday in Portugal on Saturday night to find the company that was looking after their black Audi Q7 had simply disappeared.
The couple’s daughter Izola has cerebral palsy and it was close to midnight when they called Gatwick First Parking.
After calling police themselves, the Augustins were initially told that it was a matter for trading standards and they were forced to return home by taxi and shell out £130.
By Monday, Mrs Augustin said Sussex Police told her to return to Gatwick before 3pm and she would be reunited with their car.
Mrs Augustin, from Tenterden, Kent, said: “We had collected our bags and were all tired but we couldn’t get hold of the firm so we went to where we’d dropped off the car but couldn’t see it and that’s when we bumped into another couple who were on the phone to Sussex Police about their missing car.”
Her husband was at work so Mrs Augustin, a New Zealander, who has no family nearby, had to take the twins with her in a taxi.
When she arrived at Gatwick no one was aware of an arrangement with Sussex Police, so Mrs Augustin flagged down a police officer, who made enquiries, and then informed her that it was a trading standards issue.
Mrs Augustin had no choice but to return home to Tenterden and says she felt let down by police.
The 30-year-old added: “I had been on a four-hour journey and had to pay around £200 but I still had no car.
Mark Smith boss of 1st Gatwick Parking, which is unrelated to the firm of the near-identical name, says he has been contacted by people looking for their cars by phone and at the airport.
He said: “I’ve been here for 30 years and I’ve seen this sort of thing happen before. It is very easy to set up here, blast through the summer and disappear without a trace.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said that although the situation was a civil matter it had worked to reunite owners with their cars, although 30 are still to be located.
The spokesman said: “The force has received several reports in recent days of passengers booking their cars into the care of Gatwick First Parking, but not having their vehicles returned to them on their arrival at Gatwick Airport.
“The company, which is not a Gatwick Airport approved meet-and-greet parking company and has no relationship with the airport, appears to have since ceased trading.
“Through research and intelligence, police have located approximately 120 vehicles at various sites in Sussex and Surrey.”
Tags: Gatwick Airport