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Towed then trashed

Car taken back to council yard ends up badly damaged

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Kelsey Dittmer may have expected his car to have gathered a bit of dust while sitting in a Carterton District Council (CDC) yard after being towed for blocking a footpath.

What he wasn’t expecting was to find it extensively damaged and the stereo missing – taken by a council employee.

Kelsey Dittmer’s car stereo was taken by a council employee. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

The car had been towed on May 23 because part of it was blocking the footpath outside Mr Dittmer’s home and after the council received complaints, which the 22-year-old builder does not dispute.

But when he went to collect his car on Monday, he was alarmed at its condition.

“Now it’s got all the damage around the front, the head unit’s been stolen.

“I looked under the front bumper and the radiator’s been crushed and the chassis and all that’s been bent.”

When Mr Dittmer questioned the council, an employee admitted to using a front-end loader to move it while it was being stored within the council yards on Holloway St.

Before being impounded, Mr Dittmer’s car had been parked on the driveway outside his house.

Dave Gittings of CDC yesterday told the Times-Age it would reimburse Mr Dittmer for damages if complaint process findings revealed them to be at fault.

He admits it had been “blocking the footpath”.

Legally the council take ownership of any vehicle unclaimed after a 28-day period.

Kelsey Dittmer, 22. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Mr Dittmer said he was unable to collect the vehicle during weekdays due to his work roster, and the yard was not open on the weekends.

“I gave [CDC] a call a couple of weeks ago and said is it alright if I come pick up my car in a couple of weeks sort of thing, and [the council officer] was like yeah sweet, that’s fine.

“I went to go and pick it up [on Monday], paid the $70 to get it out and then I went around the back to get it and I found it in that state.

“I was like, that’s pretty shit.”

CDC operations manager Garry Baker said the vehicle had been unregistered and unwarranted.

He confirmed the stereo was taken by a council employee.

“[The employee] thought it was over its [28 day] date, but he still didn’t have the right to go in there.”

Mr Baker said the stereo had since been returned to the vehicle, with the employee given an “official warning”.

CDC planning and regulatory manager Dave Gittings confirmed the car had been “moved in a hurry” with a front end loader “and that’s when the damage occurred”.

The car was shifted as it was blocking an access way within the CDC operation yard.

He said Mr Dittmer’s complaint had been acknowledged and would be thoroughly dealt with.

“If there are reparations required we will be doing that, definitely.”

Mr Gittings said Mr Dittmer was right to expect his vehicle would be secure while in the hands of CDC.

“You certainly don’t have the expectation that one of the staff would take anything out of it.”

He said the council would be looking into whether staff followed the correct procedures regarding the initial tow, the storage of the car, and how it became to be damaged.

“That’s a big question we need to answer, and have a good answer for.”

Mr Gittings said it was likely “an independent cost assessment” would take place to determine the total damage cost.

“And if we’re guilty we’ll stick our hands up and pay for that.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Shocking outcome by the CDC ‘shame on you’ you have an employer who is a theft and another employer who caused reckless damage. Regardless of the cars road-worthiness which is am matter for the owner to sort. BUT you the CDC should man up and have that car repaired of the damages YOU did.

  2. If you need to move a car in a hurry can’t the council employees push it.
    If any employee stole something from work (the car was legally in councils possession) then theft as a servant should be dismissable not a warning.
    Who does this council think they are acting like this?
    $400 compensation are you kidding, pay the man the true cost never mind us ratepayers will fork out OUR hard earned money for YOUR incompetence

  3. Another story about the incompetent Carterton District Council. Maybe Mr. Gettings needs to move on if he can’t manage day to day business to an acceptable standard. People like him continue to waste our hard earned money!

  4. “And if we’re guilty we’ll stick our hands up and pay for that.” No!…. Your Rate payers will pay for your incompetence. It’s not “your” money.

  5. Too blimmin’ right you’ll put ya hand up…also, how does an employee retain employment after stealing from an impounded vehicle?! The mind boggles…

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