Stolen BMW emerges from murky depths

Encased in mud and full of eels, a stolen BMW was hoisted from the River Bure yesterday morning - 17 years after thieves dumped it there. The car was found by police divers last month as they investigated an underwater obstruction which snagged a racing yacht 150 yards upstream of Acle bridge.

Encased in mud and full of eels, a stolen BMW was hoisted from the River Bure yesterday morning - 17 years after thieves dumped it there.

The car was found by police divers last month as they investigated an underwater obstruction which snagged a racing yacht 150 yards upstream of Acle bridge.

Officers were surprised when a check of the Y-reg number plate revealed the ageing status symbol had remained hidden in the murky depths since it was reported stolen on March 13, 1990.

The Broads Authority deemed it a hazard to navigation, so after exhaustive attempts to find the legal owner of the vehicle to pay for the salvage operation, the car was winched onto a barge and transported away to be crushed.

Hilary Franzen of the Broads Authority said: “It started during the Three Rivers Race in June when a yacht got its rigging snagged on something under the surface.

“Police divers went down to investigate about a month ago and discovered the stolen BMW upstream from the bridge.

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“We used commercial divers to locate the car at 7am this morning and they found it at 9.15am.”

Robin Allard, navigation ranger with the authority, said: “It looks pretty good for a car that has been in the water for 17 years, but I don't think it is going to start.”

A 650m stretch of the Bure was closed to river traffic between 5.30am and 11am while commercial divers and dredging contractors May Gurney attached strops to the car and hoisted it from the 16ft deep riverbed.

Overseen by the police and several onlookers, it was then taken to May Gurney's Norwich headquarters for disposal.

Fortis Insurance in Gloucester was identified as the company that paid out to the car's owners and paid the cost of the salvage operation.

Peter Millis, head of motor engineering at Fortis, said: “Something turning up in the water like this is very rare. A lot of cars are stolen every year but most of them just disappear.”

The identity of the original owners is stored in the company's archives, but Mr Millis said there were no plans to advise them of what became of their treasured vehicle.

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