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Stolen Tractor

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limitations View Drop Down

Joined: 24/November/2017
Location: Australia
Posts: 2
  Quote limitations Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Stolen Tractor
    Posted: 24/November/2017 at 23:03
My husband was in the building trade and had a Bolens Backhoe (a small tractor). There is only 1 of that make, size, and with the dual back wheels in Australia. We have all the books and original purchase papers and an extra key.

It was used at a woman's property when it broke down and couldn't be removed. When my husband went to the property to arrange for it to be collected the owner said it had been stolen. We thought she had sold it at the time and asked friends and trade people to keep a lookout for it. We are not sure of the exact date of when it went missing or when my husband was told it was stolen.

I had originally reported the backhoe stolen in 2003-4 when a neighbour thought he had seen the backhoe, My husband was living interstate because of the death of his mother at the time and he and his siblings were settling her property; My husband asked if I could ring the police with the details and location. I rang the police and was told they would investigate and I went to the police station a few days later with the paperwork and proof of purchase. While I was there I was told they had gone to the location and it wasn't our backhoe. I was asked why my husband hadn't reported it stolen sooner. I explained that my son was in a near-fatal shooting accident and my husband was in NSW because his mother had died and he was caretaking the property and it was an oversight with everything that was going on. From my understanding, the police were investigating and that they would be in contact with us. My husband rang on numerous occasions while he was interstate but the person who we were told was investigating was never available and did not return phone calls

My husband was working at another property in 2005 when a trades-person told my husband he had seen the backhoe at a local caravan park and my husband and son went there to have a look. They were able to sight the backhoe and confirm it was my husbands. My husband again reported it and the location to the police in 2005. I am unsure if the police investigated or we were told it wasn't at that location.

Yesterday my husband saw the backhoe advertised in the local classifieds with a picture. We were able to screen capture the advertisement. My husband rang the police again. But now he is being told, it is his backhoe, that the person used to own the caravan park he contacted the police back in 2005, but, we are unable to do anything because of the statute of limitation.

The police have been anything but helpful in the past.

citizen-joe View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member

Joined: 09/October/2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 646
  Quote citizen-joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25/November/2017 at 03:11
You may have left this a little too long, proving you own it after all this time may be difficult.

Not so sure about the advice you received regarding the statute of limitations. Theft is a crime and I believe criminal matters are not subject to such limitations in this country.

If it was me and I was sure of my facts, and I had a copy of the original receipt from when I bought the tractor, and had a set of keys, I'd just go down and drive it home.

When the police came calling I show the receipt and tell them it was mine.

Better check with a solicitor before you do that, just in case there is something I've overlooked.

limitations View Drop Down

Joined: 24/November/2017
Location: Australia
Posts: 2
  Quote limitations Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26/November/2017 at 01:52
Thank you for the reply, I think the person who has the tractor has sold it for the 5k or worried and stuck sold on it. Either way not too happy with the polices attitude or lack of help. I feel we have done their job for them twice while they sit on their hands and do nothing :(

I was just trying to search why the police would think we left it to long and the only thing I could find was the limitation. The police said the other person couldn't show a receipt of purchase and he is saying he bought it from a scrap metalist but we have the original first owners reciept and all the user manual books. I think I might go to my member of parament or a solicitor. Thanks again

rannii View Drop Down
Legal Guru
Legal Guru

Joined: 25/May/2013
Location: Australia
Posts: 1135
  Quote rannii Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26/November/2017 at 18:08
All the original books and purchase receipt proves is that you purchased it first.   You could have sold the tractor without documentation.

I flat shared a premises once, the guy moved in a beat up truck. Went to work one day and never returned. I was stuck with his room full of items, and the truck. Nothing untoward happened to him, it was just weird.

After talking to the police - I was unable to move the items for a period of 3 months. After 3 months I could move them and then needed to be able to produce anything values over $xx within the space of 12 months. After that time, legal ownership passed over to me.

I don't know where the "law" actually is. This occurred in 2003 & ive moved extensively (overseas) since then. At some point an item will need to be deemed as "adandoned". I really couldn't not have seen it fair for me to continue to move and rehouse the abandoned truck.

I am assuming that had the item be reported stolen within a short period of time when it was done so - then different rules would apply.

The police also would likely drop the case due to other important cases and the duration of time that has passed. It's likely that the insurance was paid out on the tractor (and therefore legal ownership is the insurance company and not yours),   

i can understand their reluctance to place further resources on this.

NotGuilty View Drop Down
Legal Guru
Legal Guru

Joined: 19/February/2008
Location: ACT
Posts: 1139
  Quote NotGuilty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16/January/2018 at 15:15
You should not rely on the police to recover your goods for you. They have a discretion whether or not to investigate and prosecute. Moreover, the standard of proof is beyond reasonable doubt.

You had a legal right to recover your goods under the law of detinue and/or conversion in a civil court. The standard of proof would have been on the balance of probabilities.

For the purpose of the limitation statute re civil claims, time started to run from sometime in 2005 when you discovered the location of the tractor but did nothing other than tell the police.

The limitation period for civil claims in your case is likely to be well and truly over.
This post does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon.

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