How Rev Martin Fair lost two cars in one day
Published on 6 March, 2017
Rev Martin Fair of St Andrew's Parish Church in Arbroath was in the news this weekend after his car was stolen from the manse driveway.
The Sunday Post, the Sun and The Courier all published a story about the theft and the fact that even though the minister was able to tell police the exact location of his car, he still had to pay a £150 fee to get his car back.
The story the papers told, however was far less dramatic than the full story of Rev Martin Fair's highly unusual day, with not one bad car incident but two.
It started around 8:15 pm last Friday evening when Mr Fair was returning home on the motorway in his Hyundai after making some hospital visits.
“Completely out of the blue the car bonnet sprang back and smashed the windscreen,” he says. “We were traveling at 60mph, my youngest son Fraser was in the car with us and I couldn’t see anything for several seconds as I slowed the car down.
“Thankfully I was able to stop the car carefully without anyone getting injured,” he says. “ The windscreen was smashed and the bonnet and the front of the roof were both buckled from the force of the impact.
“I’d never heard of anything like that happening but apparently it does happen from time to time.
“The car was damaged but it is only a car, so the main thing was that we came out of it with nobody getting hurt.”
Just hours after making it back to the manse, the family’s other car was stolen from outside the manse.
What the thief did not know was that the Vauxhall Corsa, which is largely driven by Mr Fair's middle son –a new driver— was equipped with a tracker designed to help keep the family’s insurance bill down.
“The tracker shows the location of the car at all times, but it also provides a record of how well the driver is adhering to speeding limits and how well they are driving,” Mr Fair says. “If a person is driving well it can lower their insurance.”
Using his phone app, Mr Fair discovered the car had been driven to Dundee. He was able to call the police and give them its exact location.
Police arrested and charged a 34-year-old man in the theft and told the minister he could pick his car up after they completed a forensic examination.
But it wasn’t until he went to pick it up did that he realised he would have to pay a £150 towing and storage charge to get back his car, which was also damaged but still driveable.
“That was a bit of a shocker because it seems to go contrary to natural justice for the victim to be charged again,” he said. “I’m hoping my insurance company will reimburse me, but as a point of principle it just seems wrong.”
Nevertheless the minister says the two-car disaster won’t have a lasting impact on him.
“I can look back at this philosophically,” he said. “No-one was hurt and cars are just material things. So I’ll be talking about it at dinner parties with a wry smile.”