Consumer not fully protected by Gardai

Cartell has called is 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.

Cartell has called is 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. was set up in 2006 to help buyers make an informed choice when buying a used vehicle – including imported vehicles – by providing a user-friendly and cost-effective vehicle data checking service. is a totally independent company and fully Irish owned.

At present the Stolen Motor Vehicle Unit of An Garda Síochána (SMVU) do not forward the stolen vehicle data to vehicle history companies making 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. We understand that “data protection” issues have been cited for the failure to release this data. However, we say it is in the “Public Interest” that this information is made available.

Jeff Aherne, Director of, 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 Gardai do not release the data, 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 Gardai and the insurer.

There is some good news however. In 2010 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 Gardai 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.

Cloning of a vehicle – where one (illegitimate) vehicle is fraudulently made to look like another (legitimate) vehicle is a practice used by thieves to “safely” offload a stolen vehicle and allows that vehicle to re-enter the market. The good news is that a cloned vehicle can be spotted by using The Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) (previously “log book”) has unique numbers which can be verified using the Cartell system. It is also recommended that if the vehicle has had a duplicate VRC or has had a recent sale then caution should be advised. One should always match the VIN number in all locations around the vehicle (such as door well, boot, windscreen) against the data held by