A mum threw herself over the bonnet of her camper van in a desperate bid to stop it being towed away to be destroyed in a bitter row with her neighbour about parking.
Loredana Luisi watched in disbelief as her leased Knaus Boxster 540 was lifted on to a low loader truck from outside her flat, and even tried to prevent the vehicle being removed.
She used the van regularly, including to take her 10-year-old son Oscar to school – but a removal order claimed it was abandoned and untaxed.
It was signed by neighbour Anne Kennedy, who lives in the same apartment block in Hamble, near Southampton, Hampshire and is also registered as a director of the firm that manages the property.
Lorena was at home when neighbours overlooking the car park called her to say her van was being towed away.
She told the Mirror: “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?’
“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’.”
However, to Loredana and her neighbours’ disbelief, when officers from Hampshire Police arrived, they said it was a civil matter and there was nothing they could do.
Loredana had first received a note on her van on June 17 telling her to contact HMS Property Management Services – listed on Companies House as the secretary to Hamble Management Services, which which oversees the building where she lives.
It told her to contact the firm by July 1 “to avoid further action being taken”.
Loredana said she visited the HMS offices on June 20 and was told parking the van in the car park was not allowed as they considered it a commercial vehicle.
She disagreed, saying it wasn’t used for commercial purposes and said another neighbour had a similar van parked there.
A 28-day removal notice was subsequently put on Loredana’s van on July 1, on the grounds it was untaxed and abandoned.
The notice included a letter signed by Ms Kennedy 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 and assumed that was the end of the matter.
But on the afternoon of Saturday, September 10, neighbours got in touch with Loredana to alert her to the campervan being uplifted, on the basis of the removal notice.
A neighbour – who did not wish to be named – told the Mirror: “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.”
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.”
In an email correspondence between Loredana and Ian Dawson, of Hampshire Police’s Professional Standards Department, said on October 5: “Paperwork present and police officers present who checked the same paperwork…had no power to prevent this action as it was a private, civil matter covered under the TORT legislation.”
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 says its understanding is the van is “permitted to travel abroad for 6 months” at a time.
They continued: “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 back to her homeland.
She is worried she will end up being billed for the full value of the van – estimated to be around £60,000 – if it is eventually destroyed or at least not returned to the owners.
Loredana has been handing out fliers in the village which say ‘Wanted’ with a picture of the camper van.
She 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,” she added.
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.”
The Mirror has contacted Ms Kennedy but was told she did not wish to comment.
National Parking Control has also been contacted.