This is the lucrative municipal tow truck business in Marbella. Park illegally for half an hour, the local police will phone the tow truck and bingo, your car is gone. You won’t get it back without a trip to the local Costa del Sol police station, close examination of the car’s documents, your documents and then a €95 payment to the tow truck company at the municipal car pound. The €150 fine from the Town Hall hits you later. It’s a great business to be in. To get the franchise for towing away vehicles in Marbella, all you have to do is keep the Mayor sweet. You will see how it is done later.
The story opens in France where an upmarket BMW X5 is stolen. The owner reports it missing to his insurance company and receives compensation. From France the scene shifts to the golden spires of Seville in Spain where the BMW X5 magically reappears and is sold to a Sevillano for an agreed price of €30 000. The new owner hands over a €12 000 deposit, takes possession of the vehicle and agrees to pay the balance when he receives the car’s papers.
Did you really think that the car’s papers would ever appear? Of course not! You wouldn’t fall for this age old scam would you? When the new owner realizes he is in possession of a car with no papers, he naturally reports the facts to the Guardia Civil only to be told he has bought a stolen car with false plates. Curiously enough he is allowed to use the vehicle but not sell it.
Let’s move on again to the jet set resorts on the Costa del Sol where the bargain price €12 000 BMW X5 pops up with a friend of the new owner at the wheel. The hardworking local police stop the vehicle and book the friend for drink driving. The tow truck takes the car to the municipal car pound under the Marbella football stadium. Did I mention that the tow truck company operates the municipal car pound?
Behind the scenes, the French insurance company which has paid compensation to the first owner is now the technical owner of the luxury vehicle and their representative arrives in Marbella to claim the vehicle. He finds not only the unconfirmed second owner of the car but his drink driving friend also desperately trying to recover the BMW X5.
Faced with three claimants for the car, what does the car pound do? They auction the BMW X5. Nobody in Marbella hears about the auction and so with no offers for the car, instead of returning it to one of its rightful owners, they give the stolen car which still has no papers, to the Mayoress of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe for her personal use. (This is the Costa del Sol, remember.)
Unfortunately for Marisol, the Operation Malaya corruption scandal investigators have had the Marbella tow truck company under scrutiny for similar four wheeled favours given to the previous Mayor of Marbella Jesus Gil and other Marbella Town Hall town counsellors. The car is seized by the investigators and Marisol Yagüe who is already in prison, faces further questioning as to how the stolen luxury car, impounded by the local Marbella police ends up her possession.
Our serpentine tale of theft, fraud, bribery and greed has almost reached an end. So where does the sad Opel Corsa pictured above fit in?
In short, the Marbella tow truck company is not interested in moving an abandoned vehicle for which they are unlikely to receiving towing costs. The Marbella Town Hall itself has no money following the sustained theft of municipal money by corrupt politicians. And it is also highly unlikely that any of the present counsellors in the squeaky clean team judicially managing the Marbella Town Hall until the elections later this year would now accept a bribe of a well used Opel car.
But check back here in a couple of weeks and I’ll tell you if the Town Hall, or the municipal police or the Marbella tow truck company can get their act together and move the car along.
Update: 8/11/2008 The new mayoress Maria Angeles Muñoz has thrown out the tow truck company and clamped down on the fraud and theft that was taking place at the highest levels in the Marbella Town Hall.
The car in the picture got towed away a couple of months after the blog was published. Be careful about where you park in Marbella though. Read the comment from an unhappy reader below.
If you have any questions about visiting Marbella, don't hesitate to contact me using the comments box below.
Update 8/10/10, Everything is done very much above board now in Marbella. I would say things are squeaky clean in fact. The Mayoress Maria Angeles will be voted back in comfortably at the end of her first four year term.