Call for access to data on stolen cars
THE FORMER HEAD of the Garda stolen-vehicle unit has called for information on car thefts to be made available to third parties in an attempt to protect people against buying stolen vehicles.
Car buyers currently cannot check if cars in which they are interested are among the 9,000 stolen each year.
Finbarr Garland, who retired last week from An Garda Síochána, says Ireland is one of only a handful of countries that did not place information about stolen vehicles on the Interpol database.
Garland says a second problem is that even if a police force in another country identifies a stolen Irish-registered vehicle, it will not seize it if the car is not on the Interpol list.
“If the data was on the Interpol list, you would see a higher rate of recovery and, as a result of the higher rate of recovery, a reduction in thefts. It is a no-brainer.
“The only way you know if it has been stolen is if a garda checks it, and a garda cannot give that information over the phone. There is no other way for the ordinary citizen, or a company like a garage, to access that information, to access a database of stolen vehicles in Ireland.”
Garland says the information exists, and he would like to see a daily file of stolen vehicles uploaded to the Department of Transport’s national vehicle file. “If the department had it then the likes of car-checking companies would have it and car buyers could check it.”
Garland says he has been recommending the release of such data for almost 15 years and that, ultimately, it is a question for the Garda commissioner.
An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner held talks on the release of stolen-vehicle data to third parties last year, and the commissioner said there were two issues: the Garda did not own the data, and the data could quickly become incorrect (for example, when a vehicle was recovered).
Garland says only nonpersonal data would be released: make, model, year, colour, chassis number, engine number and registration. “There is always going to be a problem with a car going on the list and then being recovered. But every other country in Europe has such a system. You just update the file each day and upload the new file to the Department of Transport database every 24 hours.”