Car Cloning - How to Avoid Buying a Stolen Car
The head of the police’s vehicle crime unit says there needs to be a shake-up of the way second hand cars are bought.
Crackdown on car cloning scam
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hooper says too many people are becoming victims of a practice known as car cloning – in which they are tricked into buying stolen vehicles.
Police and car crime experts recently called for a review of the current vehicle registration system which they fear is fuelling an alarming rise in car cloning and personal identity theft.
Across the UK, police forces have reported a rise in the number of licence plates being stolen and then used to disguise identical vehicles which are sold to unsuspecting buyers or used in other crimes. Often innocent drivers whose plates have been copied don’t find out about the scam until they are hit with fines for speeding and parking offences committed by drivers of the cloned cars.
The rise in licence-plate thefts has been attributed to the tightening of procedures that make it difficult for criminals to obtain duplicate plates legally. Superintendent John Wake, of the newly formed Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, said more needed to be done and yesterday called for an improved licensing system, a central issuing body for registration numbers and for all cars to have tamper-proof plates fitted.
According to police estimates, there were more than 40,000 sets of number plates stolen in 2008, a rise of almost 25 per cent on previous years. The used car market is worth almost £30m a year, making it an attractive money-spinning scam for gangs who often invest proceeds from cloned car sales into other criminal enterprises.
See our guides on buying a second hand car: Never Ever Get Shafted When Buying a Used Motor