Car cloning is the vehicle equivalent of identity theft of today.There are as many as ten thousand cloned cars on our roads, but many people are still unaware of the problem. Even the police admit they don’t know the true scale of it.
How does it work?
There are various ways of cloning cars, most popular ways involves getting hold of other number plate (or illegally printed number plates) and using them on cars that the plates aren’t registered too.
The vehicle registration mark on a number plate is the key piece of information that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) use to look up keeper details on a vehicle record.
Stolen number plates are used on vehicles, by those who don’t want to be found out when they commit such crimes as:
not paying congestion charges driving away from a petrol forecourt without paying not paying for parking tickets or speeding fines
‘disguising’ a stolen vehicle
The Most Common Ways This Is Done:
Criminals make a ‘clone’ of another car by replacing the number plates on their car with the stolen registration plates from an almost identical vehicle of the same make, model and even colour.
When the owner of the cloned car realises that their number plates have gone, they go to the trouble & expense to replace them, unaware that the cloned vehicle is now being used under its new identity for a load of law-breaking activities.
These activities can range from getting away without paying for parking tickets, speeding fines as well as driving off a petrol station forecourt without paying. They can also be used in more serious crimes including organised crime and potentially, terrorist activity.
Many people have only discovered that they are a victim of this crime when they have suddenly started to receive parking tickets for places they haven’t been, or other fines or endorsements that have nothing to do with them.
As the onus is on them to prove their innocence, many victims have been left in the difficult situation of paying up or letting the issue go to court, simply because they cannot prove it wasn’t them who carried out the infringement.
Wendy Rowe, boss of leading vehicle security company Retainagroup explains:
“The owner of a cloned car who receives fines, charges, penalty points or is accused of stealing fuel or involvement in more serious crimes has the difficult task of proving that he or she is innocent. I wonder how many have just taken the hit and accepted a fine or penalty points rather than challenge the system?”
“If the car is used as a getaway vehicle or in a ram raid, there will be a further victim of the original crime. And if you’re unfortunate enough to ‘buy’ a cloned vehicle, you’ll find that you don’t own it and that you can say goodbye to the money. Even a vehicle provenance check will not necessarily reveal a clone.”
What can we all do to stay 1 step ahead of cloners?
Make it hard for them to get your number plates off, make sure your plates are attached with clutch head screws & caps & double sided adhesive tape.
If you notice your number plate has gone don’t just presume it must have fallen off on the road, report it to the police straight away this will prove that you reported the theft should your car be cloned and your registration be used at a later date.
If you have ever had to replace your number plates, it is worth considering why, as well as where you can buy them. Graham Baylis has been working with a 4plates, a company that supplies number plates , for many years now, and with the instance of car cloning increasing, wanted to pass on some advice. For more information see www.4plates.co.uk