Pubdate: Wed, 08 Aug 2001
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner


And the rental firm's response leaves them cold

Judy and John Taylor smiled at the border officials, oblivious to the fact 
they had a stash of cocaine in their car's console.

The Coquitlam couple had rented a Chevrolet Cavalier from the Port 
Coquitlam Budget outlet for their vacation.

They crossed into the U.S., toured the Cascades and returned to Canada at 
the Osoyoos border crossing. All without a hitch.

It was not until they were home that John, 68, discovered an odd looking 
baggie beneath a plastic holder in the console.

"I was fiddling around, programming the radio . . . pulled out this baggie 
with a bunch of paper things in it," John said.

He assumed it was drugs and on July 21 took the sample to the Coquitlam RCMP.

Tests confirmed they were carrying about eight grams of cocaine, said Cpl. 
Peter Markgraf.

No one had broken into the car, so the Taylors believe the drugs were 
inside the entire time.

They returned the car immediately and Budget offered them a replacement for 
the remainder of their vacation. But Judy, 60, was too shaken to carry on.

"It just finished everything for me. We could have been in jail," she said.

Markgraf said the Taylors have cause to be upset.

"They would have had a hard time explaining that if they'd been caught. 
Customs has no sense of humour. You're guilty until proven innocent."

Usually when drugs are found in a car, customs officials seize the vehicle 
and call police, said Krysten Montague, a spokeswoman for Canada Customs.

"One of the unfortunate things about rental vehicles or even borrowing a 
friend's vehicle is that you are responsible for what ever is in the 
vehicle," she said.

Judy is not satisfied with Budget's response to her complaint.

She couldn't reach anyone on the weekend and when she got through the 
following week, no one called her to apologize.

Instead she received a letter explaining, "Unfortunately coins, sunglasses, 
parking passes, you name it, are routinely left in vehicles by renters. 
Yes, even drugs. We do not always find everything. I hope your next rental 
experience is better."

Budget had no comment.
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