Along with several bags of items left behind by the people who stole her car, Tiffany Braun, of Nanaimo, also found a used syringe next to the seat that was left behind by the ICBC subcontractor hired to ‘bio-clean’ the vehicle. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Vancouver Island woman finds used syringe in her returned stolen car

Syringes, bags of clothing, tools and other debris left behind by thieves who stole car

A Nanaimo woman has her stolen car back, but is none too pleased about finding a used syringe and other items left behind by the people who stole it.

Tiffany Braun awoke May 8 to find vacant boulevard where her 2000 Toyota Corolla should have been parked in front of her home on Poplar Street.

She’d bought the car from a coworker in 2016 and relies on it to commute to and from her job at Nanaimo Airport, which isn’t served by public transit.

The culprits had the car about 12 hours when an RCMP officer spotted it on Bowen Road and arrested them at gunpoint.

Police confiscated drugs found in the vehicle and had the car towed to an ICBC holding yard. ICBC couldn’t return the car right away, since it had to be inspected for damage and the claim approved by an adjuster – a process that took about one week, according to Braun.

“I couldn’t even get a rental for the first week until the adjuster approved the claim,” she said.

Braun’s insurance coverage paid for up to $500 to rent a vehicle while hers was serviced.

Braun said she was told she couldn’t have her car until it was cleaned, but after about three and a half weeks and the car rental allowance had run out, Braun asked for her car back.

It was returned, along with several bags filled with property found in it when police made the arrest. Her belongings, including the car’s owner’s manual, were stuffed in the bags with everything the suspects left behind. Bolt cutters, several cell phones and cell phone accessories, backpacks, clothing, syringes – used and unused – a small propane torch and propane bottles, a case of Kokanee beer and several flashlights, including one flashlight that she said had been stolen from her husband’s van six months earlier.

“There are three or four big, plastic clear bags that say ICBC on them, full of clothes and garbage and all of this stuff and a big, green Rubbermaid bin full of stuff and it’s not like they had gone between the seats and checked to make sure there was anything because that’s where I found one of the needles – down beside my seat – and then there was garbage underneath the seats,” Braun said. “All they’d done with the bio clean is they just spray this substance on it and seal up the car for two days.”

Braun donned a pair of rubber gloves, used tongs to pick up debris in the car, sort her belongings from the other stuff in the bags and wiped the sticky bio clean chemical from the car’s windows and controls. The chore took about five hours.

“Can you imagine? That’s how they gave it back to me … they told me there was all this crap in there. They didn’t seem to care,” she said. “The only thing they did agree to is it’s going for a detail.”

Lindsay Olsen, ICBC senior communications specialist, said in an e-mail that when a stolen vehicle is to be returned to its owner, ICBC hires a licensed biohazard cleaning company – where the services are available in the province – to ensure the vehicle is safe before it is returned. ICBC also returns all safe belongings recovered from vehicles to customers, since it’s not possible to determine which specific possessions belong to them.

“Unfortunately, in this case, a syringe was missed in a side pocket of the vehicle by the bio cleaning company,” Olsen noted.

“The safety of our customers is of the utmost importance to ICBC and we take this matter seriously. Since learning of this error, we have formally apologized to the customer and addressed the mistake with the biohazard cleaning company to ensure this does not happen again for the safety of our customers, employees and business partners.”

Olsen went on to say the recommended and standard process after a vehicle is bio cleaned, is that it’s towed to an auto body shop to be detailed, vacuumed and wiped down further, but in this case the customer chose to retrieve the vehicle before this step was completed and an opportunity to correct the mistake was missed.

“Nevertheless, the work of the bio cleaning company was clearly not carried out to our standards and we again, apologize to the customer for that,” Olsen said.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

City of Port Alberni agrees to three-year extension of track surface

Bob Dailey Stadium track has experienced ‘degradation and tears’ since resurfacing in 2013

Could Thunder in the Valley roar at Alberni’s airport once more?

City of Port Alberni offered Stamp Avenue as a temporary solution

John Douglas looks forward to a “healthier” Port Alberni

Douglas has resigned from his position at the Port Alberni Shelter Society to run for mayor

Alberni weightlifter heads to world championship

Dhaliwal is ranked second in the Pan Americas and fifth overall in the world

Wildfire crews gain upper hand on Arbutus Ridge fire

Controlled burning helping to contain fire: Coastal Fire Centre

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

70 years after Babe Ruth’s death, fans still flock to grave

After Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53, tens of thousands of fans came to pay respects

Airbnb’s federal budget proposal tells Liberals, ‘we want to be regulated’

Submission says ‘we want to be regulated’ and asks the government to avoid forcing existing rules

Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a ‘leader’s courtesy’

Missing B.C. hiker, dog found safe after 3-day search

Cranbrook hiker had been missing since Sunday, August 12, near Jumbo Pass.

UPDATED: B.C. RCMP dismantle Kinder Morgan protest camp

RCMP say they will enforce a court injunction today and remove Trans Mountain pipeline protesters who have been camped outside a Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

Italy says death toll will mount in Genoa bridge collapse

Authorities worried about the stability of remaining large sections of a partially collapsed bridge evacuated about 630 people from nearby apartments.

Former CIA Director: Trump worked with Russians and now he’s desperate

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, John Brennan cites press reports and Trump’s own goading of Russia during the campaign to find Democrat Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

Church sex scandal: Abuse victims want a full reckoning

Since the crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, dioceses around the country have dealt with similar revelations of widespread sexual abuse.

Most Read