Help. My Car has been Cloned.
All too often we take calls from motorists who have had their vehicles cloned.
What is car cloning?
Car cloning is similar to personal identity theft where another motorist has exactly the same registration on their vehicle as you. This can never be classed as accidental as it is done intentionally to avoid paying speeding fines, parking fines and other motoring offences. This means that when a car, or motorcycle is using a cloned or stolen registration number to make it look like another car with the same make, model and colour, it is known as car cloning, also known as vehicle identity theft.
How is my vehicle cloned?
A criminal will always find loopholes in the law, and vehicle cloning is no exception. Let’s say, for example, a criminal has a white Audi but has no car tax or MoT certificate. It’s a simple exercise to drive around a few streets to find a similar car. The criminal will then order a pair of plastic registration plates to match that vehicle. The plates are usually supplied by a dodgy company on eBay where the manufactures don’t ask for identification or proof of ownership to qualify the purchase. Once they are fitted to the vehicle, they are driving around and pretending to be you.
What will happen if I’m cloned?
Like identity theft, but with vehicles, the genuine owner of the vehicle with the properly registered licence plate will be contacted by the authorities if any crimes or offences using the cloned vehicle are reported, but will obviously conceal the identity of the real perpetrator allowing them to continue driving around. If the criminal passes through a 70 mph speed camera at 100 mph then you will receive a summons in the post and a possible ban. Its then your responsibility to defend yourself by proving that it was not you that committed the offence. This can be difficult if you live in the same vicinity.
Is it easy to spot a cloned car?
No, it’s not that easy to spot cloning. Crooks are very clever. They will use a cloned licence plate for a short spell and then move onto to use another one from another suitably similar vehicle to avoid detection in case they are caught out. This can go on for months. It’s quite common in London where commuters are photographed many times in the congestion zones. A case study showed this type of crime was up 50% in 2017 and increased by another 30% in the first half of 2018 and is now generally out of control.
What Can I do if I am a victim?
Simply speaking there is no way to avoid this in the first instance, however there are two simple ways to prevent any further issues occurring.
1. The registration on the vehicle should be retained at which point a suitable replacement mark will be issued by DVLA. You should then change the plates on the car and notify the insurance company. This means that is an ANPR ( Automatic Number Plate Recognition ) camera picks up the car showing its old identity the criminal will be stopped immediately. This service is readily available from our company at a cost of just £25 plus VAT and can be completed the same day in virtually all cases.
2. The second option to avoid further Cloning issues is to purchase a personalised registration mark which will instantly change the vehicles identity. It’s much less likely that anyone would clone a car with a private registration mark as it’s much more recognisable.