How to avoid police charges for recovering your stolen motorbike

Police will charge for recovering a stolen motorbike, but there are ways to avoid paying.

The chances of getting a bike back after it has been stolen are slim, but when you do get the call for the police, it’s obviously going to lead to a mix of joy and relief. It can be short-lived though; if the bike has been recovered to the care of the police, you are going to face a bill of £150 and upwards.

Under legislation set by the Government, The Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 2008, police forces that recover a stolen motorbike can charge the owner for the privilege.

The fees are set by the legislation: £150 for the recovery of the bike and £10 per day for each day the bike is in storage. Ouch.

You may not be able to recover the fees from your insurer either. It is entirely down to your policy. Double ouch, potentially.

The bike will not be released from the storage compound until you pay either. So if you don’t and can’t pay straightaway, the storage fees will start to mount up.

Importantly, the fees are not payable if the bike is seized under PACE (the Police and Criminal Evidence Act) as part of an investigation.

However, it might not be made clear to you at the time you receive a call from the police that the bike isn’t going to be used for criminal investigation. You might assume it is, but many forces do not investigate any further when vehicles are recovered – effectively considering the case closed at that point.


During the call, if you haven’t been told otherwise, you need to ask the officer or call operator if the vehicle is being seized under PACE. If it’s not and you opt to get the police to recover the bike, you’ll be liable for charges.

You can also inform the police when you report the motorbike has been stolen that you do not want them to recover the vehicle if it is not being seized under PACE. They should ask you anyway, but it doesn’t always happen.

If the bike isn’t being seized for further investigation, the police should give you the option to either recover the vehicle yourself (if it is safe to ride) or for them to recover it. If they do, the meter’s running.

If it is rideable, get there as quickly as you can. The police are obliged to stay with a vehicle for a reasonable amount of time to prevent it being stolen again, but we have heard of some cases where they simply don’t do this.

If it is not rideable, you may be able to have it recovered under your breakdown policy but check with your breakdown operator first as many of the cheaper policies do not offer this cover.


You might also be covered for recovery after theft by your comprehensive insurance, but again you need to check, and it’s only really going to be a feature of premium policies.

If it isn’t covered in your breakdown or insurance policy your next option (assuming you haven’t got a friend with a van or trailer) should be to contact a specialist motorbike recovery operator. The cost might not be that much less than the police charge for recovery, but at least you won’t be hit with the storage charge either, which is charged from noon on the day of recovery.

During business hours and if the vehicle is still in your local area, your usual mechanic or bike dealer may have a recovery service, but again it may not save you much on the police charges.

Likewise, if there’s a Zipcar van or other cheap rental option available, this could save you money, but you do need to think about how you get the bike in the back of the van and also how you can secure it properly, so no further damage is caused.

Unfortunately, if the bike is recovered and you are not contactable – perhaps you are on holiday – then the fees are going to be chargeable.

Get yourself sorted:

Go and have a quick check of your breakdown and insurance policies now and see if you are covered for recovery after a theft. It might be worth adding it next time you renew.


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B&B Staff

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