'Lost' car discovered in St Albans car park after two years
PUBLISHED: 18:52 21 January 2011
A CAR that was reported missing over two years ago has been returned to a St Albans family in perfect working condition.
The Sanctuary family lost the car in May 2008 when their father went shopping and forgot where he’d left it. Despite searching the city they never found the silver Honda and reported it as missing, presumed stolen.
But earlier this month a phone call informed them that the car had been sitting in the NCP car park on Drovers Way the entire time.
Nigel Sanctuary said: “It’s just amazing that it was right under our noses the whole time and, even more astonishingly, when my sister and her husband went to get the car, although they used a battery booster, it started straight away.”
The Honda had been left there by Gerald Sanctuary when he went into St Albans to do some shopping but during the trip the dementia sufferer, who was then in his late 70s, lost his memory and was unable to remember who he was or where he was.
Fortunately, Gerald was helped by a kind-hearted stranger who identified him through the documents in his wallet and took him back to his house on Beechwood Avenue. Gerald called his son Nigel and told him what had happened and said he’d lost the car and couldn’t remember where it was located.
Nigel and his brother searched throughout St Albans for the car for several days, although their father insisted he had not left the car in the city centre. Eventually the family reported the car as missing and after a few weeks gave up hope that it would ever be found.
The car was eventually spotted by eagle-eyed NCP employee Charlene Lewis who said she’d noticed the car during the busy Christmas period and from her training with NCP recognised that because the car was covered in dirt it had probably been there for some time. She did a routine check by calling it into the police and discovered that the car was reported missing.
Nigel was contacted and a few days later his sister Sophie went to collect the car where she was astounded to see that despite finger-mark graffiti in the dirt, the vehicle was secure. There were no signs that the car had been tampered with despite a visible credit card on the dashboard and the length of time it had been there.
Nigel said: “It’s a real testament to the security of NCP car parks that the car was secure and it’s a real wonder that the car fired up straight away and then sat idling for some time.
“We really owe our thanks to Charlene whose diligence has given us back the car and brought a smile to our faces.
“Dad kept saying that the car was near the chemists and we checked so many chemists and it wasn’t there but on Drovers Way there’s a Boots, so he was right after all!”
A spokesperson for NCP said they were delighted to return the car back to the Sanctuary family and said it was quite common for people to leave cars for lengthy periods in their car parks. She added: “We’re proud to hear how hard Charlene has worked to make sure that our procedures were followed. We believe this gentleman was a very loyal customer to NCP, we wish him well and are pleased that his car has been returned to him and his family.”
The car is currently receiving some TLC at a garage on Old London Road before Sophie takes it on. The return of the car doesn’t just signal a neat ending to a family anecdote for her, it will be a welcome replacement for her current car which is on its last legs. Gerald was one of the founding members of the Company of Ten and worked tirelessly to raise the funds to get the theatre company off the ground. Now 80, Gerald’s dementia is very advanced and he lives in St Christopher’s Nursing Home in Hatfield.
The Sanctuary family are keen to hear from the person who helped their father back in 2008. If it was you or someone you know, please contact the Herts Advertiser on 01727 736520.