Thieves took wrong load
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III A prohibition placed on a vehicle used after it had been stolen and recovered led a Middlewich haulage company to appear before a disciplinary inquiry for the second time in just over 12 months.
When Holdfront, trading as Rootes Transport, appeared before North Western Traffic Commissioner Keith Waterworth, DOT vehicle examiner Kevin Gainford said that the artic concerned had been sent out without being checked by the company.
At a check in Carlisle both tractor and trailer were found to be seriously defective. The thieves had cut into the brake lines and had driven the vehicle away with the brakes partially applied, which could have caused a number of the brake defects found. Broken wheelnuts could have been caused by it being driven at speed over speed ramps in the industrial estate.
At a subsequent fleet check the company's vehicles were found to be in a satisfactory condition, said Gainford. Notice had been taken of what had been said at the public inquiry in April 1995 and the maintenance system had been altered.
Describing the thieves as amateurs. managing director James Rootes said that when the vehicle was stolen they had taken the wrong trailer, thinking that it was loaded with Dunlop footwear. Within half a mile they gave up trying to move the vehicle. When they slashed the curtain sides they found the trailer was loaded with salt, which was not worth stealing He had driven the vehicle back and the brakes appeared to be working normally.
Waterworth said that this was a salutary lesson. If something similar happened in the future Rootes must satisfy himself that the vehicle was in tip-top condition before allowing it back on the road.
Questioned about the payment of three mitigated penalties over vehicle excise duty, Rootes said they had had to pay back tax on one vehicle which they had mistakenly thought still had three months tax on it after a period off the road.
Reducing the authorisation from 10 vehicles and 30 trailers to 10 vehicles and 20 trailers as "a rap on the knuckles", Waterworth said that if there was any difficulty over VE,'D in the future he would assume Rootes was doing it on purpose and he would take the appropriate action.