A fish seller says police broke into her van causing thousands of pounds of damage after mistaking the fishy smell – for a ‘rotting human body’.
Stunned Amy Valentine, 28, got a call from a mate to say four police cars were by her parked fish van – which was storing six empty containers and a large ice bucket.
But by the time she got there cops were watching a tow truck move the now-damaged van off the road.
Amy said police had shattered the passenger-side window and smashed in the rear doors bending the hinges so much the doors couldn’t be replaced.
She said the cops were chuckling as they explained they “decided to break into the van when they assumed the smell was a rotting body”.
Neighbours had complained about the van which they say had attracted flies.
Police admit they smashed into the van over ”welfare concerns” on July 21 around 12.30pm.
Amy said: ”By the time I got there, they had smashed my windows and ripped my doors apart.
“They said there was a swarm of flies at the front of the van, so decided to search it. All of them said they’d assumed there was a body inside.”
Amy, a part-time goalie, was playing football when she got the call and rushed to Chelmsley Road in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham.
She’d parked the yellow van there on the 19th after getting a flat tyre from work.
Because she got a flat tyre, though, Amy hadn’t been able to wash the van – meaning the odour festered over the weekend.
The fish vendor has claimed that police behaviour cost around £5,240 – £1,800 for the loss of the original van, £75 for paying the company who recovered it to scrap it, £2,800 for a brand new vehicle, a £200 recovery fee, a £20-a-day impound fee lasting nine days, £90 on a recent tank refill, and a day’s lost earnings (£95).
Now she intends to write a letter of complaint to West Midlands Police.
Amy said: “On Friday I got a flat tyre, so had to park it up.
“On Sunday, I was playing football when Charlotte got a call off a neighbour that there were four police cars and a fire engine at my van.
“They said they didn’t call me because my number wasn’t registered at my new address.
“And their response was that I should have left a note because I’d broken down.
“Me and Charlotte found it quite amusing that I was in my football kit, talking to the police about the fact they thought I’d hidden a dead body in my van.”
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police confirmed they had received a call from a neighbour concerned by the swarm of flies attracted to the van by a strong smell.
They said police acted under the powers granted by Section 17(e) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to break into the van.
A spokesperson for the force said: “Police were called following concerns over strong smells eminating from a van suspected of being abandoned in Chelmsley Road, Chelmsley Wood, just before 12.30pm on Sunday (21 July).
“The vehicle was reported as being parked up for three days and officers forced entry because of welfare concerns.
“It was established there was nothing suspicious and the van was recovered.”