Motorists have paid Derbyshire police more than £400,000 in recovery and storage charges over a seven-year period to retrieve their stolen vehicles.
A Freedom of Information request to Derbyshire Constabulary has revealed that from 2011 to 2017, a total of £420,271 was paid to the force for the removal and storage of 1,764 vehicles.
A Derbyshire police spokesperson said: “The cost of recovering vehicles is something that has been set out in legislation by Government and not something that forces have control over.
“Money paid by victims to recover their vehicles covers the cost of recovery and storage and is not a source of income for the force as the fees are for the recovery operators who provide the service.
“Charges for storage only apply once officers have completed their forensic examination, victims are not charged for storage while a vehicle is being investigated.
The statistics show that last year 314 vehicles were recovered by Derbyshire police, the highest total listed, resulting in removal charges of £50,650 and £22,775 for storage.
In 2016, 246 vehicles were recovered, costing £39,850 in removal charges and £17,325 for storage.
Under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, police have powers to remove a vehicle that has been left or parked illegally, obstructively or dangerously, or that has been abandoned or broken down.
The police are entitled under the same Act to charge for the removal, storage and disposal of vehicles. This applies to stolen vehicles as well as to abandoned and illegally parked cars.
The charge for the removal of such vehicles varies according to their size and condition. For a car under 3.5 tonnes, the removal charge would be £150, and the storage charges would be £20 per day. Ultimate disposal would be a further £75.
The Home Office said that the removal of stolen vehicles is important for protecting the vehicle from further theft or vandalism.
They added that if costs were not met by the vehicle owner then it would fall on the police or the public purse.