Car number plate clone warning after woman fined almost £20K when criminals cloned plates

Car registration: How to prevent number plate theft

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Claire Herron, from Hartlepool, advertised her Mercedes for sale on Gumtree and had no idea that the plates had been cloned. This was until speeding fines, congestion charge demands, and the threat of arrest warrants began to pour through her letterbox.

In January, the RAC reported that more than 1,100 motorists contacted the DVLA in March 2020 to object that their vehicle had been wrongly linked to offences.

This was almost twice as many cases as the 656 seen in April 2019.

An estimated 40,000 retailers sell number plates in the UK.

In January, the RAC reported more than 1,100 motorists contacted the DVLA in March 2020 to object that their vehicle had been wrongly linked to offences.

Industry sources blamed the easy availability of so-called ‘show plates’ and the rising number of stolen cars.

Official figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) reveal just 1,255 vehicles were reported as cloned in financial year 2012/13.

That figure rose to 4,802 in the nine months between April and December 2018.

What’s more, police believe the true number is far higher, with the crime being under-reported.

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Car-cloning “will only be done with criminal motives in mind”, say the police, and it occurs when number plates from one vehicle are affixed to an identical car crooks wish to disguise the identity of. 

That will typically be because the car has been stolen, and sometimes to facilitate other criminal activities such as drug-dealing.

Claire Herron spoke of the ordeal, saying: “It was Easter Bank Holiday in 2018, I was just opening my post and there was a fine for me supposedly going through a tunnel somewhere just outside London.

“There was a photograph of a car that looked like mine with my plate on, except it wasn’t my car and I hadn’t been in London.”

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