ZB

Thieves steal driver's licence from letterbox, buy car, police won't investigate

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 18 Jun 2022, 12:09pm
An Auckland woman believes her driver's licence was stolen from her letterbox and used fraudulently. (Photo / 123rf)
An Auckland woman believes her driver's licence was stolen from her letterbox and used fraudulently. (Photo / 123rf)

Thieves steal driver's licence from letterbox, buy car, police won't investigate

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 18 Jun 2022, 12:09pm

An Auckland woman whose driver's licence was stolen from her letterbox and used to buy another vehicle that was caught speeding is upset police said the crime was too small for them to investigate. 

She even alerted them to a potential address for the thieves but was told it wasn't a priority. Now she's worried her identity might be used in other instances and what it means for her credit history. 

"If we fail to investigate these types of fraud then what message does that send to criminal elements of our society?" 

Auckland resident Justine, who did not want her surname used, said her licence was taken in May 2021 but she did not realise until a year later when the Ministry of Justice texted her about a speeding ticket. 

"It's an odd sense of violation ... there's this feeling in your gut of stupidity." 

Justine ordered a new licence in May 2021, but cancelled it after it never turned up. She admits she could've been prompter in cancelling it – but never thought something like this would happen. 

She didn't order another at the time after she injured herself and was unable to drive. 

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More than a year later, on June 30, Justine says she got a text from the Ministry of Justice asking her to contact them as soon as possible. 

While on the phone to the ministry, she discovered the address and the vehicle registered against her name were incorrect. Her address was listed as being in Henderson while she lives in Herne Bay. 

"I said 'I've never lived there and I've never owned that car'." 

The representative looked deeper into the file, she said, and revealed that her name had been against a vehicle for about two months in 2021. During that time, a ticket was issued against her name. 

"That all happened a year ago and I only found out last Monday that any of it had happened. 

"If they hadn't got a speeding ticket from a camera, I never would've known that my identity had been stolen and used." 

She's been left wondering what else her ID card could have been used for. 

"Most people wouldn't do something like this, but someone that would ... how far would they go? 

"After all, they sent the vehicle ownership papers to an address so they then had two forms of ID with my name on it. And you only need two forms of ID to open an electricity account." 

She says she paid the ticket to avoid further action but disputed it retrospectively, hoping for a refund. However, her two dispute applications have been rejected. 

Justine said she was unsatisfied with the police response – and wished they had done more to investigate the case, such as visiting the address listed on the vehicle ownership papers. 

In emails to Justine viewed by the Herald, a police staff member said offenders often did not use their own personal details as they knew how to avoid detection and that things were registered to, or delivered to, addresses all the time that have nothing to do with the offender. 

The police staff member said this type of offending occurred "all day, every day" and "police have competing priorities". 

"As such we need to prioritise our fraud complaints. Your complaint has been assessed and has not met the threshold for further investigation." 

The employee empathises with Justine over the situation and suggests she runs a credit check on herself. 

In the email, police also said a fact not widely known was that fraudsters who got a copy of a person's driver's licence (it didn't have to be the actual licence) could open accounts with various companies. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Allan told the Herald that generally speaking, police received a large number of complaints involving misappropriated identities. 

"Our identity information is important to us all, and it is also a valuable commodity to fraudsters. 

"We understand and acknowledge being the victim of this type of offending can be extremely distressing, and while police cannot investigate all crime that is reported, if it isn't, we are unable to link it to other similar or more serious offending." 

Justine said she's sharing her story to raise awareness of how easily this could happen. 

"I think people need to be much more vigilant. I should've been way more vigilant about my driver's licence and for that I feel stupid."