A former mechanic says issuing fake warrants of fitness (WOFs) is an “industry-wide problem”.
Jerry Burrell issued 15 fake warrants while working at Miles Toyota in Christchurch. He was paid for 10 of them and told police he “felt pressure to act in this way – everyone knows that happens. If you’re in the industry, it’s a common thing”.
Burrell pleaded guilty to a charge of “dishonesty using a document to get financial gain” at Christchurch District Court and will be sentenced on April 22.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Glenn Pascoe told Fairfax Media that Burrell would issue a WOF for the vehicles and update details on the NZTA’s website using his own authorisation code. The cars have since been rechecked.
NZTA spokesman, Andy Knackstedt, says the number of fake WOF cases is low. “There is no indication it is an industry-wide problem or that the incidence, albeit low, has increased or altered.
“Industries and businesses involved in public safety have a vested interest in ensuring everyone is playing by the rules, which helps ensure instances such as this are an anomaly”.
A spokesman for the AA says Burrell and his customers “endangered the public with their actions”.
“Motorists who have participated in this fraud are likely driving cars that aren’t roadworthy. They’re putting themselves and other road users at risk with what are potentially unsafe vehicles.
“[WOF] inspections are there to ensure all vehicles on our roads meet minimum road-safety standards. If an unsafe vehicle is being driven around, the drivers are putting lives at risk.”