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A green Volvo sits motionless with a wheel clamp on its front tire after being labeled abandoned on RAF Lakenheath. The base sees an average of 350 to 450 vehicles each year that are considered abandoned. So far this year, 93 vehicles have been towed away and sent to a local scrap yard.
A green Volvo sits motionless with a wheel clamp on its front tire after being labeled abandoned on RAF Lakenheath. The base sees an average of 350 to 450 vehicles each year that are considered abandoned. So far this year, 93 vehicles have been towed away and sent to a local scrap yard. ()
A green Volvo sits motionless with a wheel clamp on its front tire after being labeled abandoned on RAF Lakenheath. The base sees an average of 350 to 450 vehicles each year that are considered abandoned. So far this year, 93 vehicles have been towed away and sent to a local scrap yard.
A green Volvo sits motionless with a wheel clamp on its front tire after being labeled abandoned on RAF Lakenheath. The base sees an average of 350 to 450 vehicles each year that are considered abandoned. So far this year, 93 vehicles have been towed away and sent to a local scrap yard. ()
A black Lexus sits with a wheel clamp on its front tire after being labeled abandoned on RAF Lakenheath.
A black Lexus sits with a wheel clamp on its front tire after being labeled abandoned on RAF Lakenheath. (Photos by SEAN KIMMONS/S&S)

RAF LAKENHEATH—A black Lexus and a green Volvo sat in a dorm parking lot, held in place by a wheel clamp courtesy of the 48th Security Forces Squadron.

Even without the wheel clamps, the two vehicles probably would be in the same spot, covered with the same fallen leaves and bird droppings.

Tech. Sgt. Joe Marston, an investigator for the squadron, said that the cars — appearing to be in fair condition — have been stationary for almost 60 days. In that time, nobody has claimed either one, despite the notices with Marston’s office phone number taped to the driver-side windows.

The vehicles are eyesores, just like the other 350 to 450 vehicles on base that Marston’s team of three investigators identify as abandoned each year. So far this year, 93 vehicles have been towed away to a scrap yard in Beck Row.

Soon, the Lexus and Volvo could be numbers 94 and 95.

Lakenheath isn’t the only base towing vehicles. RAFs Alconbury and Molesworth take away 20 to 30 abandoned vehicles each year, according to 501st Combat Support Wing spokeswoman Tech. Sgt. Kristina Barrett.

RAF Mildenhall has had 35 abandoned vehicles so far this year, according to base spokesman Master Sgt. Charles Tubbs.

Disposing a vehicle is the Lakenheath team’s last resort, and most times the vehicle owners know the vehicle is about to be junked.

“We’re a lot more lenient than that,” Marston said. “We do work with owners to dispose them free of charge or help them get the vehicle sold to somebody else.”

His team handles all the paperwork to de- register the airman’s name from the vehicle, Marston added.

There is a 60-day grace period after a vehicle has been considered abandoned before it can be sent to the scrap yard.

Here’s what police label as abandonment: A vehicle has an expired road tax disc for 15 days or more; has not been moved for seven days without any intent of being sold or repaired; or deemed as unsafe, Marston said.

As of right now, police don’t impose any fines or charges to those who abandon vehicles. However, there are plans to make abandoners pay up to $550 for towing and storage fees at the base impound lot, if necessary, Marston said.

The money charged will go toward the Air Force’s general fund, a pool of money for the service, he added.

There also could be repercussions if the police inform the unit of the owner who abandoned his or her vehicle.

“We make contact with the individual and first sergeant so they are both involved in the process from the beginning,” he said.

Vehicles that are abandoned tend to be 1990-1995 models in the last throes of life.

“They are usually the airman’s car that has been on base for the past 10 years and are just dying,” Marston said.

Take care of your vehicle

A vehicle is considered abandoned if it has a road tax disc that’s been expired for 15 days or more; has not been moved for seven days without any intent of being sold or repaired; or is deemed unsafe.

There is a 60-day grace period after a vehicle has been considered abandoned before it can be sent to the scrap yard.

To get rid of your unwanted vehicle free of charge, contact the 48th Security Forces Squadron at 226-1622. You’ll need to bring in the vehicle’s V5 registration, pink card (base registration) and keys, if available, to building 1165 on RAF Lakenheath. Other bases have similar programs, so contact your nearest security forces squadron.

A statutory off-road notification (SORN) can be filled out for those who need to leave a vehicle at a standstill on base for 30 days or less. Copies of the form must be supplied to your first sergeant, security forces, pass and registration office, and dorm manager, if applicable. SORN forms are available at pass and registration offices.

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