Mum’s camper van towed away after complaint by neighbour in parking row
A mum wearing just her pyjamas had to throw herself in front of a tow truck after a neighbor complained and had her camper van taken away from outside her house. Loredana Luisi watched as her leased Knaus Boxster 540 was lifted onto a truck outside her flat after a neighbour claimed it was abandoned and disused. Loredana uses the van regularly, including to take her 10-year-old son Oscar to school.
But a removal order signed by a neighbour claimed it was abandoned and untaxed. Loredana was at home when neighbours overlooking the car park called her to say her van was being towed away, reports The Mirror. She said: "I went out there in pyjamas and asked these people 'who are you and what is the name of your company?
Can you show me some documents? Why are you taking my camper van?'
Loredana and her neighbours watched as the camper van was hoisted onto the truck (Image: Loredana Luisi) "They didn't care and acted as if I wasn't speaking to them.
They continued taking the van into the air and putting it onto this big truck. I told them 'please stop it. I will call the police, you are stealing my van.'
"Nothing. They didn't care. The only thing I was able to do was put my body in front of the truck to stop them moving.
"I told them 'if you want to steal my camper van you will also have to kill me because I will not move from the front of the truck until the police arrive'." When police arrived they said it was a civil matter and there was nothing they could do. Loredana first had a note on her van on June 17 telling her to contact HMS Property Management Services, which oversees the building where she lives.
Loredana said she visited the HMS offices three days later and was told parking the van in the car park was not allowed as they considered it a commercial vehicle. She said another neighbour had a similar van parked there, and the van wasn't used for commercial purposes.
Loredana and Oscar had only just returned from a month long holiday in the camper van when it was taken (Image: Loredana Luisi) A 28-day removal notice was put on Loredana's van on July 1, on the grounds it was untaxed and abandoned.
The notice included a letter addressed to National Parking Control, whose website allows owners or managers of private land to download a 28-day Tort Notice on the basis a vehicle parked on private land is abandoned. Once this period has run, if the vehicle remains, a removal can be ordered through NPC. Loredana responded to the removal notice, refuting the reasoning.
But on the afternoon of Saturday, September 10, neighbours saw the van being taken away. A neighbour - who did not want to be named - said: "We are just staggered, to say jaw on the floor...it's extraordinary. I am just so horrified.
I can't actually believe it happened. "It definitely wasn't abandoned because she was driving it every day."
Loredana took Oscar to school in the van most days (Image: Loredana Luisi) Vehicle owners Luisauto Caravan, based in Bari, Italy, where Loredana is originally from, are adamant it was taxed and insured to be used in the UK, with Loredana's rental running until October 31.
The vehicle was removed on September 10. A logbook entry provided by Motorizzazione Civile - the Italian DVLA - appears to confirm the tax, insurance and rental agreement. However, UK Tort Enforcement Services (UK TES) - the firm hired to remove the van - claim they can't accept the logbook entry due to the writing not positioned correctly on the document lines.
It says this has been verified to them by the UK DVLA, though the DVLA has told the Mirror it has no record of speaking to UK TES. Loredana has hired solicitors RM Legal. In a letter to UK TES on September 15, the legal firm said: "It is clearly a serious issue for yourselves that you have unlawfully seized and retained our client's vehicle due to your inability to recognise lawful tax documents in Italy.
"We strongly recommend that you obtain independent advice on the legitimacy of the documentation."
The van was hoisted up out of its parking space (Image: Loredana Luisi) Loredana and her son had just returned from a month-long camper van trip to Denmark for a family wedding and then Norway, arriving in Hamble days before the removal. RM Legal said: "This vehicle was not in the UK continually between August 2021 and April 2022 as suggested by the management company and has operated within the legally allowed times in the UK."
Loredana said she has been renting the van on and off from the firm in Italy since February 2021 - but never for more than a few weeks or months at a time before returning it during her trips. She is worried she will end up being billed for the full value of the van - estimated to be around GBP60,000 - if it is eventually destroyed or at least not returned to the owners. Loredana said: "Believe me, never never never in my life have I had a situation like this.
When I walk I have to walk with my head up so I can see in the front and also I have to give an example to my son that you cannot accept when these kind of people do these kinds of things." A spokesman for UK TES claimed the camper van was "legally removed after a 28 day Tort was applied and spent". "After the 28 days the owner does not own the vehicle any longer and the housing association/management are liable for any legal action that may take place," they continued.
"Our service is free we do not charge for the removal of vehicles that are abandoned on private land and it's free for housing associations." The spokesman claimed the issue with the Italian log book was because "none of the font lined up in the boxes". A spokesperson for Hampshire Police said: "We were called at 2.49pm on 10 September by a member of the public reporting a person at risk of breaching the peace in relation to a vehicle being removed from Green Lane in Hamble-le-Rice.
"This is a civil matter and no further police action is being taken at this time." A spokesperson for Luisauto Caravan said: "All our rental vehicles are legally insured both in Italy and abroad and taxed. "We hope that this absurd affair will be concluded as soon as possible."
They also provided a driving fine with the van's registration and description received in France on June 8 - showing it was out of the UK then. Despite claims made by UK TES about the logbook, a DVLA spokesperson said it has no record of speaking to the firm and wouldn't usually advise about any non-GB document other than when requested by the police. A spokesperson for Hamble Green Management said: "Despite extensive efforts to resolve this situation we were ultimately left with no option but to arrange the removal of this vehicle.
"Ms Luisi failed to engage as an owner of the vehicle and has failed to comply with the terms of the lease, despite our continued encouragement to do so. "It is unfortunate that matters have reached this level when a sensible and amicable solution could so easily have been achieved. The lease agreement is very clear, and we have at all times acted professionally."
National Parking Control has been contacted.