Crack in the gearbox. - 1400ted
No, don't reach for your workshop manuals just yet. Ashton Police set up a sting for a local drugs dealer to come into the station to identify a man who had shot him. When he got there he was arrested and 74 packets of heroin and crack were found hidden in the gearbox of his Peugeot hire car. That set me wondering for a bit until I came to the conclusion that the newspaper had probably meant glovebox. Thought I might be able to get some baccy past customs in my power steering reservoir !
Our man got 9 years and was told to pay £320.000 or do another 3....result.
Some years ago I was well turned over by the customs at Poole, Me, wife, 3 kids, 8,15 and 17, Nissan Patrol and Caravan. They took the kids to a private room to search them, I told them not without a Justice's order and they didn't. I had nothing naughty, they even took the air filter cover off. They only gave the caravan a cursory search, I reckon they'd searched it on the boat as it wasn't locked. Whilst all this was going on, an old coach, plants in the windows and all painted up, hippie style, was waved through. Still can't think why they picked on me.
Crack in the gearbox. - Manatee
>>newspaper had probably meant glovebox

Well, it was being used as a 'gear' box?
Crack in the gearbox. - FocusDriver
The period approx 2002-2005 saw UK Customs Officials carrying out what they described as zero tolerance. There are many examples of entire families being callously turfed out of their car at midnight on a Sunday evening and their car confiscated leaving them no means to get home or go to work the next day. Why? Because they exceeded UK Customs arbitrary limit on cigarettes and alcohol. Not the EU or UK limits mind, just made-up ones. Putting two and two together it was clearly part of a massive campaign to halt tobacco smuggling due to disproportionate taxation in the UK and a perhaps opportunistic approach to revenue raising. Scaring ordinary members of the public has pretty much been acknowledged (though never in as many words) as an objective, so large is the sum of tax involved. The EU ticked off the UK government but the unjustified heavy-handedness seems to continue in smaller numbers.

Many complaints were received by MPs during this time for just the sort of thing you experienced Mr Ted.

It doesn't matter how many or what sort of people might cross borders, but don't, for heaven's sake, bring in another packet of ciggies.

PS On the hippie coach thing, I guess its occupants are reckoning on almost certainly being searched quite thoroughly. So probably never do!

PPS I don't have any workshop manuals.
Crack in the gearbox. - oilrag
Since I bought the van I get pulled over for a `chat` around every other trip. "How long have you had it" - either just outside the inspection area - or inside for a longer chat and a not very thorough look in the back.

I`ve tried going through hat (fleece) on and hat off. Sometimes with stubble and sometimes with a long white beard (yes really) no difference.
When asked I always say the month and year of first registration - rather than adding the actual date (which I can remember due to being near my birthday) for fear of triggering a `disbelief response`

I asked once what the criteria was for being pulled over - of course its secret.

There are always two of us, but I notice that it`s usually blokes driving alone that get stopped with me.
I usually get asked what we are doing and where have we been in the VAN and It feels strangely worrying in an unconvincing answer sort of way - saying that we are touring the continent by choice in a van rather than a car due to it being more practical.

Edited by oilrag on 22/02/2009 at 07:42

Crack in the gearbox. - smokie
"I asked once what the criteria was for being pulled over - of course its secret."

Probably ANPR - oops, hush my mouth... :-)

I've only travelled Speedferries (RIP) recently, but I do think that some cars coming to the UK would be "targetted" at the other side, or en route. After all, UK passport control was in France, and sometimes the UK customs shed was absolutely deserted and in darkness on return.

btw heard of a headline recently (probably made up) - "Police find crack in man's bottom"

Edited by smokie on 22/02/2009 at 09:40

Crack in the gearbox. - bathtub tom
>>the newspaper had probably meant glovebox

Two points spring to mind:

1. I've been told the first rule of journalism is never let the facts get in the way of a good story. A local newspaper has reported that water bills are to increase on April 1 20093!

2. I was pulled coming through a busy airport. I was carrying SWMBO case (it was much heavier than mine). I shouted to SWMBO ahead of me in the crowd to let her know, at which point I was told they weren't interested as I wasn't on my own.
Crack in the gearbox. - ifithelps
...drugs found in gearbox...

Very likely, most things have been tried - tyres, sills, headlining, dummy exhaust pipes/radiator header tanks, inside doors, etc etc,

As regards the crack in man's bottom, men - and women - who try to smuggle drugs into prison are known to use every orifice.

I'll say no more.
Crack in the gearbox. - nortones2
On a flight back from the Balearics, there were one or two pensionable Hells Angels look-alikes, amongst some younger ones. One, limping but jolly and apple-cheeked had an alloy, hollow, walking stick. Confided to his pal in that he had some nice gear tucked away - pause for meaningful glance at vessel for weed. I did think of stopping to have a word with HMCR, but decided that as they would finger me, through pure ineptitude, and we were going to have to wait to get through baggage, I'd let it go. Probably same OAP, stopped in Weybridge. You can't trust granddads these days....
Crack in the gearbox. - mike hannon
We were pulled over and the car searched at Poole a few years ago on the way to France.
The woman who looked in the boot said 'did you pack those bags yourself?' I was sorely tempted to say 'the butler did it', but didn't. Luckily she didn't find the secreted packets of smoked back bacon and Stilton.
The young chap who looked under the bonnet asked me what the piece of rag was, stuffed down behind the power steering pump (but nowhere near any moving parts). I told him (to my shame) I used it to wipe the dipstick.
He pulled it out (the rag, not the dipstick), handed it to me and said 'well don't leave it there - I've seen this sort of dangerous thing before'.
Then we were waved on.
Crack in the gearbox. - 1400ted
My 'tug' in my OP was back in 87 when there were still limits on booze etc. We had the exact amount of wine for 3 all wrapped up in towels, socks, etc to stop rattling. No baccy. They emptied the lot from the back, clothes, awning ,folding bike and then left me to repack whilst they did inside the car. When asked to lift the bonnet I was getting a little ***** off. I said 'I will, but you won't like what you find' His eyes lit up....actually it was a mega smelly cheese, which was making us ill and had been relegated to the bin I had made on the inner wing to carry jump leads, oil, etc. I still don't know why I brought it 700 mile just to put it in our bin ! Last May, on the bike, there were no passport chex, either in or out...national security...Ha !
Crack in the gearbox. - oldnotbold
Customs in Dover have a thing about solo men - but go through with a lady in the passenger seat and they ignore you. I go through with my wife, and she seems to do....
Crack in the gearbox. - smokie
I often travel alone but am rarely stopped.

One exception was when I worked for P&O, on computers. I was on stand-by one weekend, unable to be out of the area, so was in painting jeans and t shirt. Sure enough I got paged mid Sunday afternoon for a "system down" in Dover, which I attended with obligatory briefcase of bits. Took a bit longer than planned, but was on my way home a bit after 7 pm when I got paged again, this time for Calais freight system down which also required attendance. Got a return ferry about 01:30, still in painty clothes, no coat (now late, and cold!) and briefcase. Not surprisingly, I got pulled on my way back into the UK. As we used to have to frequently do the crossing, I had no duty free, as it was then, so was quickly on my way.

btw ifithelps, I hope you didn't overlook the alternative interpretation of the headline I posted above...
Crack in the gearbox. - Chris White
I've only travelled through customs once on my own and got pulled on the French side of Eurotunnel last year. I didn't know if once I told them I'd been to Holland overnight it set off a few alarm bells......

An English guard with a gun who initially pulled me and did a quick search of the car had a real attitude but the English customs guy who questioned me after was actually quite pleasant.

He had a look through the car and I guessed I answered the questions right, but I did miss my slot and had to wait for the next train.


Edited by Chris White on 22/02/2009 at 16:09

Crack in the gearbox. - ifithelps
...btw ifithelps, I hope you didn't overlook the alternative interpretation of the headline I posted above...

Don't think I did.

In one sense, it's a gift to the headline writer.

On t'other hand, if the story is what I suspect, drugs in prison is a serious matter and the newspaper will be wary of being seen to make light of it.

Crack in the gearbox. - rtj70
Back in 1990 when there was still a manned border crossing between West Germany and Czechoslovakia (before Germany united and the Czech's and Slovaks split)... coming back into Germany and our car stopped. You could see equipment for taking tyres of wheels etc.

We got asked if we had anything to declare. The very serious officer got us a little concerned (he had a sub machine-gun in his hand)... then started laughing. He was winding us up over how how wine we had in the car.

That was an interesting/memorable trip for various reasons.
Crack in the gearbox. - bathtub tom
Back in the '70s we got lost and ended up crossing from Holland to Germany at some obscure village. The German official was in the process of emptying the boot and even making us unwrap birthday presents until the Dutch guy came across and started remonstrating with him! I thought it would end up in fisticuffs.
Crack in the gearbox. - Lud
The very serious officer got us a little concerned (he had a sub machine-gun in his hand)... then started laughing.

2001 or 2002, coming back from Czech Republic into Germany, there was an extremely hip and sardonic German customs man got up as a sort of plainclothes SS officer, leather coat, cold, authoritative manner, and so on. He too turned out to be up for a bit of a joke with the (Skoda-driving) Brits.

I wonder if it was the same bloke rtj?
Crack in the gearbox. - rtj70
We'll never know Lud :-) The one we dealt with asked about things to declare and then asked something like: "one, two, three..." and paused for effect and then added "hundred litres of wine?" We had one bottle of something between us!

Where you'd stash three hundred litres in a Ford Orion is anyone's guess. We had odd looks days earlier when we went into Czechoslovakia.... my brother had checked the border was open 24 hours and you could buy visas on the border. What you couldn't do was buy visas 24 hours on the border! We drove across without a visa and eventually got turned around. The German side were wondering what we were up to :-)

Next morning we bought the visas in no mans land... but my brother's British passport raised a few eyebrows. Issued in Dusseldorf :-)
Crack in the gearbox. - Lud
Customs in Dover have a thing about solo men

I've been pulled twice there, once alone with a French art-deco stove (warming our sitting room as I speak) weighing down the nose of my Skoda, once with a male cousin of my wife in his Mercedes on the morning of the 1987 hurricane. Small hours (when customs have little to do) both times.

When they had finished going over us on the second occasion, something made me show them my old passport which was stuffed with lurid African and Middle Eastern visas. My wife's cousin still rolls about laughing at the memory of their faces.
Crack in the gearbox. - Harleyman
Best hiding place I ever came across was when I was in the Army, many years ago; I was a mechanic with a guided weapons unit, and in those days there was a regular mass exodus over to Sennelager every autumn for exercises.

We used to stuff the empty missile bins full of fags and booze and then disable the engines; the vehicles couldn't be started therefore Customs couldn't access the bins. Previous cubbyholes included the NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) filters and radio sets amongst others.

Went to France (Portsmouth-Caen) last year on the bikes, was highly amused to see a French couple on a very nice stock Honda CBX get pulled at Caen whilst we (on noisy Harleys) were waved through.
Crack in the gearbox. - L'escargot
Is that all? In my innocence I expected the thread to be about oil leakage from a cracked gearbox. I must get more acquainted with the latest street lingo innit!
Crack in the gearbox. - Pugugly
Only been stopped twice in 30 years of regular travelling. First occasion was on the French/Andorran border by French customs - the lone female there insisted on searching our Spanish registered Pug 605 hire care, I'm certain that we were picked out on seeing our British Passports as other cars were being waved through. The cavernous boot was opened and sitting in the middle of the otherwise empty boot was Mrs P's handbag - the Officer was visibly taken aback (luggage was at the hotel) to such an extent that she did a Basil Fawlty jump to her rear......she tried to get me to open the handbag....Mrs P unleashed a tirade of Franco/Spanish expletives at her and she let us on our merry way.

Second time was in Gillingham FC's tour bus (don't ask) accompanied by a group of mainly middle aged men on a battlefield tour accompanied by non other than Prof. Richard Holmes - made us late for the crossing which was annoying.
Crack in the gearbox. - Pugugly
And nearly went to Tech unread.
Crack in the gearbox. - Altea Ego
Had a hard time by the immigration boys once. We had been to the vendee, and we had taken my sons friend with us. No-way could they conceive any legitimate reason for a girl in the car with a separate family name on the passport, despite a letter from her parents.
Crack in the gearbox. - bathtub tom
Again, many years ago. A Sally line ship IIRC. It had a spiral loading and unloading system in that the cars were 'unwound' from the outer sides of the decks and driven off the side of the ship. Someone has to be the last car off I suppose - it was me.

It seemed to take an age before we reached the dock and at the back of the queue watched as everyone else was waved straight through, except us. I suppose they had nothing else to do until the next ship arrived. An hour or so after docking we were finally on our way.