Cartell, Ireland’s number one car history check, is calling for the release of stolen motor vehicle data to the consumer.
At present the Irish consumer has no simple way of knowing if a vehicle they plan to buy is stolen, as the Stolen Motor Vehicle Unit of An Garda Síochána (SMVU) do not forward the stolen vehicle data to vehicle history companies. This makes it virtually impossible for the consumer to know whether the vehicle is stolen or not. If released, stolen data would mirror the successful collaboration between UK Police Authorities and Vehicle History Companies in that jurisdiction. It is understood that “data protection” issues have been cited for the failure to release this data. However, Cartell say it is in the “Public Interest” that this information is made available.
Jeff Aherne, Director of Cartell.ie, says: “This is a serious problem. If you buy a stolen vehicle you can lose all of your money as the vehicle may be returned to its rightful owner.”
The Garda resistance to release the data is at odds with the situation prevailing in the UK where the police allow access to stolen vehicle data via the Police National Computer (PNC). The PNC pushes data out to car history checking companies such as HPI UK. Cartell has aided in the recovery of UK stolen vehicles which wind up here in Ireland by checking each registration with HPI. Ironically it means that while Irish vehicle history companies are helping to repatriate UK stolen vehicles, they cannot fully assist with Irish stolen vehicles. It also means that Irish stolen vehicles are exported to the UK and never recovered.
Each year there are upwards of ten thousand stolen vehicles of which two thousand go unrecovered. It is these unrecovered vehicles that are resold to unsuspecting members of the public. Because the data is not released, thieves in Ireland do not have to clone the vehicle by using false registration plates of a similar “clean” vehicle. In other words the thief can leave the existing registration plates on the vehicle, safe in the knowledge that the only people who know the car is stolen are the Gardaí and the insurer.
There is some good news however. In 2010 Cartell.ie set up the Motor Insurers Anti-Fraud and Theft Register (MIAFTR). This contains the registrations of vehicles which the insurers have paid out on due to theft-unrecovered status. We would encourage anyone purchasing a vehicle to check this database. However the data is only loaded once the vehicle has been paid out by the insurer, meaning that some unsuspecting purchaser has probably been conned into buying it already – stolen vehicles tend to arrive and leave the used vehicle market very quickly.
Cartell asks that Gardaí data relating solely to registration numbers of stolen vehicles (accompanied with make/model designation and date stolen) once available on PULSE should be forwarded to car history checking companies and the public at large. This will assist in recovery and reduce the amount of time available to thieves to sell on the vehicles; or at least make it more difficult for them.