Dad locked up for stealing his own car

A FATHER due to pick up his little girl was surrounded by 10 police officers, handcuffed and held in a cell for five hours for driving a “stolen” car - which was actually his own.

A FATHER due to pick up his little girl was surrounded by 10 police officers, handcuffed and held in a cell for five hours for driving a “stolen” car - which was actually his own.

Spencer Schofield, from Clacton, had driven into town to do some shopping and was parked up when two policewomen on patrol knocked on his window and said his green BWM 320i had been reported stolen.

The father-of-one asked officers to drive him to his home nearby so they could see all the documents that would prove his innocence, but instead he was held in the cells until they realised what he was saying was true.

Mr Schofield, 30, said: “It was completely over the top, especially when I said they could come back to my house, about four minutes away and I could have shown them all the documents and resolved it in five minutes, instead of spending more than five hours in a cell.”

The full time dad had left his three-year-old daughter Selbie with her grandfather while he nipped to the shops at 3.30pm last Tuesday.

He said: “I was sitting outside the shop when a policewoman knocked on the window and said the car was stolen.

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“The next thing I knew I was surrounded by police cars, I think there was about four cars and about 10 officers.

“I said I had bought the car about two weeks ago and if they wanted to put me in a police car and take me to my house I would show them the receipt, the MoT I'd had done, my insurance and tax and the details of the previous owner's insurance.

“They didn't want to know, they told me not to speak and got me out of the car.

“They breathalised me in the street, it was so embarrassing because mums from Selbie's pre-school were there.

“They handcuffed me, I was trying to explain that I could show them the relevant paperwork, but they put me in the back of the van and took me to the police station.”

Mr Schofield was taken to Clacton police station where he had his fingerprints and photograph taken before being put in a cell.

He said: “They took all my clothes and my shoes and gave me a tracksuit, I think it was because I had cords and could have hung myself with them.

“I was in the station for more than five hours. I was meant to be picking up my little girl and getting her home to bed for 6pm but I was stuck in the police station.

“They interviewed me and eventually said there had been a mistake. They said it might have been an error on the computer, that someone reported their car stolen and they got the registration number wrong.

“They apologised and let me go but sorry isn't really good enough.”

Mr Schofield had bought the car for £1,000 from a friend of his father's just a couple of weeks before he was arrested.

He said: “I've spoken to him since and he said he hadn't reported the car stolen, I don't know what's going on.

“I'm reluctant to drive it now in case I get pulled over again with my daughter in the car.

“They didn't need 10 police officers to deal with this, there were plenty of other crimes they could have been dealing with. All it would have taken was a bit of common sense.”

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said: “A man was arrested in Clacton town centre on September 23 because he was seen driving a car that had been reported stolen the previous day.

“We later established the man was the rightful owner of the car but because he had bought it only very recently his details were not on the Police National Computer.

“We are extremely sorry that the driver has been inconvenienced in this way but we were acting on information that appeared to be correct at the time.”