A HAMPSHIRE couple whose two vehicles were stolen from outside their home are furious after being charged hundreds of pounds to get them back.

A Peugeot van and a BMW belonging to Carrie Malone and her fiance, Wesley Bortier, were taken using keys that had been snatched from the couple's Southampton home.

Both vehicles were later found abandoned in the city and taken to Ravenscroft Motors in Bitterne Road West for forensic examination by the police.

But couple's joy turned to anger when Wesley went to the compound to collect his van and was charged £350 - a £150 towing fee plus £20 for each day the vehicle was there.

Ms Malone and other car theft victims look set to face a similar bill when they collect their vehicles once the locks have been changed.

Last night Hampshire Constabulary defended the practice, saying car theft victims charged for the recovery of vehicles were "usually" reimbursed by their insurance company.

But Ms Malone described the fees as "daylight robbery", adding; "I've got a spare set of keys and could have collected the car myself.

"We wouldn't have been hit with these charges, which have hit us like a tonne of bricks.

"The police should be picking up the bill not us - they're the ones who failed to ask us for the spare key to my car or if we wanted to arrange our own tow.

"And if they wanted forensics to examine the vehicles they should have paid for the transportation."

Several people took to social media after Ms Malone posted details of the fees she and her fiancee face.

Rhona Kimber said: "That's disgusting. How it is right that you have to pay to get your own property back?"

Amanda Judge also used the word 'disgusting', adding: "How can they charge you when you weren't allowed it back when it first got found."

As reported in the Daily Echo, burglars are taking advantage of the heatwave by stealing cars using keys left near open windows.

But Ms Malone and her partner say they were the victims of a practice known as "fishing".

Burglars equip themselves with a fishing rod or another implement that enables them to reach through their victims' letterbox and grab any keys left within reach.

A Ravenscroft Motors spokesman declined to comment, saying police "control all the charges".

A police spokesman added: "Hampshire Constabulary recover stolen vehicles as part of the national vehicle recovery scheme, which incurs a cost. The costs are usually reimbursed by the victim’s insurance company."