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)

B.C. 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 Vancouver Island 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 in Nanaimo.

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

More sailings coming to Haida Gwaii

The B.C. government says Haida Gwaii’s two BC Ferries routes are among… Continue reading

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Mold shuts down construction at QC supportive housing project

Construction of the new 19-unit modular housing complex in Queen Charlotte has… Continue reading

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

Most Read