Gardaí are investigating a spate of car break-ins this week where certain types of vehicles appeared to have been targeted for their tax and insurance discs.
Affected car owners in Clontarf and Fairview in north Dublin awoke to find the passenger windows of their cars smashed with nothing taken from the vehicles except for the discs.
A Fairview resident whose car was damaged in the early hours of Friday morning told the Irish Mail on Sunday: I didn’t even realise the discs were gone until it was pointed out to me.
‘I found out from the neighbourhood WhatsApp group that others had the same thing happen to them. It’s worrying that it was on such a large scale and nobody saw them.’
Another resident in the area said that their local garage told them they had seen a surge in cars with smashed passenger windows in recent weeks.
They added: ‘It seems like a minor thing but it’s hugely disruptive and you’d worry that if they’re using your disc on another car that you could be liable.’
A source said the thieves are believed to be getting fake registration plates made to match the registrations on the discs.
They then transfer the discs to vehicles of a similar type. Insurance discs list the colour and make of the car.
The source added: ‘The stupid thing is that this kind of thing doesn’t work. Most of the time, the guards will catch them out.’
Another resident said: ‘The guards told me that they can steal discs from cars the same make and colour to put on similar cars. It seems a lot of effort to go to if they can just make fake discs.’
While displaying tax discs in the front window of a car has been abolished in several European countries and the UK, drivers in Ireland are still required to display the disc as well as one for their insurance and another for the National Car Test (NCT).
The Automobile Association (AA) has called discs ‘the most wasteful and counter-productive pieces of paper imaginable that have literally become worse than useless’ and has previously called for them to be abolished.
A spokesman added: ‘In years gone by, they may have been a reasonable way to prove that your car was compliant but ever since we have had colour printers they are a fraudster’s charter.
‘It is almost comically easy to print a passable fake that will pass the “Garda torch test”, which is as close as they ever get.’