Waka Kotahi recently announced that it will change the fee structure for third-party services accessing its Motor Vehicle Register in October which means stolen vehicle checks, which are currently free, will soon cost 19c per query.
As you can imagine, this has raised a few concerns among websites like CarJam which allows Kiwis to quickly find information about a vehicle, such as the make and model, just by inputting a license plate number into its search function.
It also shows a vehicle’s theft status, making it useful for people to report or verify if a car they have come across has been stolen.
From October 2023, the only way CarJam will be able to access this information is by paying 19c per vehicle checked. Taking to social media, the service provider states that there are a few key problems with a paywall.
While the general public will still be able to check if a car has been stolen for free on the New Zealand Police website, it doesn’t include all vehicles of interest. It’s also ten hours behind Waka Kotahi’s Motor Vehicle Register which means thieves will have more time to do as they please.
CarJam also says that it will put the public in more danger as it opens up more opportunities for criminals and will ultimately create more work for the Police.
Even though the subject has been discussed with the authorities and Waka Kotahi for months, there seems to be no indication that the incoming fee will be removed.
In retaliation, a petition has been set up on the New Zealand Parliament website which requests the Government to reverse its decision to charge websites like CarJam for accessing a vehicle’s stolen status.
As of writing, there are just over 3.5k signatures on the petition with 45 days remaining before it’s closed.