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What is car cloning?

Date: 04/12/2017 09:45:51
Category: Car tracking
Author: Tom Light

One in 12 of the cars on the UK roads today are cloned - that’s a staggering three million vehicles. Cars are cloned in order for criminals to disguise the true identity of a car that’s either been stolen, or is being used in such a way that they don’t want to be traced. Simply put - it’s a car carrying a false identity, or a fake number plate. 

How do they do it?

A thief will usually clone a car by changing the number plate on the car and taking one from a similar make and model of vehicle so that the swap isn’t easy to spot. Since 1903 all vehicles on the public roads must be registered, but nowadays it’s much harder to buy false number plates. It is still possible online, even though it was made a legal requirement in 2003 to provide proof of identity and ownership of the vehicle in question. Another solution for criminals is to steal an existing plate of an existing car. 

How to spot a cloned car

Unfortunately, relying on the automated number plate recognition cameras isn’t enough. They are there to spot untaxed or uninsured cars. The best way, sadly, to know whether a car you own has been cloned is to wait for a parking or speeding fine to drop through the letter box which you didn’t commit. This is usually the better of the two options, though, as if the cloned car has been used in a more serious crime, it could mean the police come knocking on your door. The police’s job is not an easy one- a blue Ford Focus driving down the road with a number plate stolen from another blue Ford Focus is difficult to spot. 

If you end up buying a cloned car you risk losing both the car and your money. The best way to avoid unwelcome surprises is to get hold of the make, model and registration number of the car in order to put them through the DVLA’s free vehicle enquiry service.

There are also ways that V5 registration certificates can be falsified - watch out for missing ‘DVL’ watermarks and for serial numbers that aren’t between BG82229501 and BG9999030. Be wary of meeting at addresses other than the one on the V5, and make sure that you check the VIN or chassis number of the car - very rarely will thieves go to the lengths of filing off chassis numbers.

Perhaps the best tell, though, is if a car is extremely under-priced. If it is, the deal will usually be too good to be true. 

What to do if you think your car has been cloned

First of all, you must get in touch with the police and the DVLA to let them know that your car has been cloned. Do keep hold of parking tickets or fines - these may be useful. It’s also worth thinking about a dash cam, which will prove you weren’t there when the ticket was issued.

How to prevent car cloning

Although you can’t prevent car cloning, you can deter thieves from stealing your car. Fitting your car with reliable car tracking devices can really help make your car easier to find if it is stolen: http://www.tracker.co.uk/for-your-vehicle/car-tracking/.
Tracker also provide some valuable information here on stolen vehicle recovery: http://www.tracker.co.uk/stolen-vehicle-recovery/

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