Warning after 1,000 cars left in muddy field by 'airport parking companies'

More than 1,000 cars have been left unattended in a muddy field by five companies promising off-site parking for Gatwick Airport.

Drivers are being charged £50 a week for the service, which is being investigated by police.

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Car owners blast off-site airport parking 'cowboys'

A holidaymaker who used an airport parking company while he went on abroad from Gatwick has returned home to find his car missing.

It comes a day after it was revealed thousands of cars have been found parked insecurely in muddy fields - with their keys left nearby for anyone to help themselves.

Watch Malcolm Shaw's report:

Off-site parking customer has 'no idea' where car is

A man in Laverstock, Hampshire, has branded the company that was meant to look after his car while he was abroad 'hopeless.'

Philip Denee paid for meet-and-greet parking at Gatwick Airport before flying to Turkey.

In the paperwork he received from the company he was told to call a number when he returned in order to get his car back.

When he couldn't get through he decided to go the carpark where he handed over his car and found several other families who were also trying to find their vehicles.

Despite multiple attempts to try and track down his Audi, Mr Denee and his family ended up having to get a taxi home.

He says he is no closer to tracking it down:


'Off-site parking' customer returns to filthy car

A man whose car was left covered in mud by a company which offered 'off-site' parking near Gatwick has spoken out against those responsible.

More than 1000 vehicles - thought to belong to holidaymakers - were discovered by police in a boggy field near the airport.

Five companies suspected of operating illegally at the site are now under investigation.

Kingsley Raffael says the company he used tried to hide the mess:

Holidaymakers warned after 1,000 cars left in boggy fields by rogue parking companies

The investigation found hundreds of cars unguarded in a muddy field Credit: Sussex Police

Sussex Police has issued a warning to holidaymakers after more than 1,000 vehicles were found unattended in a boggy field near Gatwick Airport.

The force is working in conjunction with Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council Trading Standards to investigate five companies suspected of operating illegally at the site.

Credit: Sussex Police

The businesses claim to offer secure, reliable and affordable parking for people accessing the airport.

Officers are urging drivers to beware of rogue traders and only book with approved parking companies, pending the investigation.

Representatives from the police and the councils visited the field – the exact location of which is not being disclosed to protect customers' vehicles – on Wednesday (22 June).

On arrival, they discovered hundreds of keys to the vehicles in the boot of a car which was left open and unlocked, while several others were covered in mud.

In addition, some keys were left in envelopes on the windscreens of the cars they belonged to – in full view of anyone passing by.

In some cases, keys were left on the windscreen Credit: Sussex Police

We visited the site with the district council and trading standards with the aim of exposing and taking firm action against these unscrupulous rogue companies.

"I was disgusted but not overly surprised by the condition of the cars, because this appears to be an ongoing issue in the area. Some of the cars were stuck in thick mud and were unable to be towed away; let alone driven away.

"But one of the most worrying things we found was an insecure vehicle with the keys to hundreds of others left in full view in the boot. We were on site for about 45 minutes and not a single person was present to challenge us during that time.

There was nothing stopping us from accessing the field and no CCTV cameras anywhere in sight, which is a real concern.

Clearly, what is being advertised by these companies and what is actually happening are two completely different things, and we'd like to make people aware of this.

The chances are, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

– Sergeant Darren Taylor, Sussex Police
Credit: Sussex Police


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