Dec '1623

10 Steps To Take If Your Number Plates Have Been Cloned

1. Cloning

A guy cloning a vehicle's number plate

Cloning is when a criminal intentionally replaces the license plates of their vehicle from a `clean` vehicle meaning a vehicle that has been driven by an owner that has no history of speeding, getting a parking ticket and being fined. Criminals use this as a means to avoid getting caught for breaking the law by doing certain things such as speeding. Cloning another vehicle registration plate makes it much harder for the police to find out who the criminal is and where they are because the only information the police has access to is the owner. Sometimes criminals don’t just take another vehicle registration plate but they also use a vehicle that is of the same make, model and colour of the vehicle they have stolen information from.

Number plates can be physically stolen from a vehicle or purchased from illegal suppliers and in this case the thieves don’t ever have to touch the car that’s being cloned [1].

 

2. What can I do?

Cloned number plates are increasingly being used for criminal activity because making up entirely false plates doesn’t work anymore because of technology that can check license plates quickly [2]. Therefore criminals have decided to opt for real license plates using those that are up to date with MOT, tax and insurance [3]. To avoid being a victim of cloning there are precautions you can take such as when taking a picture of your car, don’t take a picture of the registration plate and post it online because this gives criminals access to your registration plate.

 

3. The Consequences

Most victims don’t realise they are victims of cloning until fixed penalty notices and speeding fines start arriving at their door. One unlucky motorist had found out the hard way, having received a knock on the door from Police suspecting the motorist of driving away at several petrol stations, without paying for fuel [4]. If you find that you’re a victim of cloning then it’s on you to prove that you are the victim and not the perpetrator by reporting it to the appropriate authorities. This can be a stressful time for victims but it’s important to remember to report these criminals because otherwise the charges will be put on you.


4. Why are so many registration plates being stolen?

Registration plates been stolen from a few vehicles

Number plates related crime are at an all-time high nowadays because of the high price of fuel that criminals are not willing to pay, so they use a victim registration plate, get their fuel and go without paying. This can potentially have the Police arriving at the doorstep of the victim's house demanding a justification as to why this incident has occurred. Another reason why cloning is at an all-time high is because of the increase in adoption of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. Use of ANPR up and down the country means more criminals can’t use fake registration plates, so instead they use a legitimate-looking victim registration plate to avoid getting caught.  

 

5. Get replacement number plates from a reputable supplier

Replacement number plates are relatively easy to get hold off with various internet sites making it easy for criminals to get access to number plates. Buying number plates from some suppliers, allow criminals to avoid producing the necessary and required identity and vehicle documentation required by law when purchasing replacement number plates. This makes it even easier for a criminal to get a set of number plates made up and delivered to their door that appear to be ‘road legal’ but aren’t. But Fortunately, there are number plate suppliers, we, on the other hand, make sure the customer must provide supporting evidence (VRM), along with proof of identity prior to all number plates leaving our facility.

 

6. The process to getting a vehicle registration plate

Person holding a v5c form

If you want to get a new registration plate you can only get them from a registered number plate supplier. The supplier will ask to see original documents that prove your name and address, and all necessary vehicle documents to show you are able to use the vehicle registration number. To confirm your name and address you will need to produce identification such as a driving license, or a national identity card if you are not born in the UK. To prove your name you will need a passport (this doesn’t have to be issued in the UK), a bank statement or a credit card. You will also need to prove that you can use the registration number, thus a V5C or V5CNI will be required.

 

7. Contact the DVLA

The DVLA head quarters building

If you have been a victim of physical number plate theft, then we advise you to contact the DVLA. In most cases you don’t usually have to but, be letting the agency know can help you in piling up your defence. Depending on what crimes were committed with the theft of your number plate, little advice is provided on the DVLA website, so investigation on what kind of felonies have been brought up - can help you when calling the Police right after. It is vital that you replace your number plates online as soon as possible, as you cannot drive WITHOUT number plates.  

 

8. Collect Evidence

cctv footage used as evidence for number plate cloning

Again, If you suspect that you have been the victim of cloning, the best thing you can do is collect as much evidence to prove that your car was with you all the time, not for instance speeding down a motorway or stealing fuel at a fuel station. If you know that your vehicle was parked in a specific spot for the duration of a crime committed, then chances are that your vehicle must have been recorded by CCTV. You can request CCTV footage for yourself. If the footage can also identify the person, it could clear you from the crime if it wasn’t you driving the vehicle at the time.

9. Security Screws

Security Screws to deter number plate thieves

Thieves mostly prefer number plates that have been stuck on, as opposed to screwed on, for the obvious reason that they are much easier to remove without using tools. The ideal plan is to make their lives, even more, harder by deterring them with “Security Screws”.

10. Car History Checks

Guy refusing car because he checked the history of the car

If you’re in the process of getting a used car and want to protect yourself from buying a cloned car, then we recommend you do a car data check. The risks involved with buying a used car are very high, such as 1 in 3 vehicles having a hidden past. These can include; having outstanding debts, being currently stolen or uncovered as an insurance write-off [5]. We suggest you use AA Car Data Checks just to be on the safe side of things when buying a used car.

Sources

[1] http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/car-buyers-guide/cbg-cloning.html

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/feb/27/number-plate-cloning-drivers-fraud

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/feb/27/number-plate-cloning-drivers-fraud

[4] http://www.simplyregistrations.co.uk/blog/number-plate-theft-car-cloning-dont-be-a-victim/

[5] http://www.theaa.com/car-buying/cloning

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