Cloned Number Plates: What You Need to Know

Photo of a UK Number Plate

Cloned number plates are becoming increasingly common on UK roads. Similar to identity theft, a criminal can use your personal information and particulars as their own, and the impacts can be far-reaching.

Let’s take a closer look at the process and prevalence of number plate cloning, and what methods can be used to prevent it.

What Is Car Cloning?

Car cloning is a type of fraud that involves criminals creating a fake identity for a vehicle by replicating its number plate and other identifying details. The process typically involves copying the number plate of a legitimate vehicle and using that information to produce a duplicate plate for a stolen or illegitimate vehicle.

Criminals do this to avoid detection and commit crimes such as speeding, running red lights, parking illegally, or even more serious offences like theft and burglary.

How Common Are Cloned Number Plates in the UK?

According to the latest figures, there were over 20,000 incidents of illegal number plates reported to the police in the UK in 2020. This represents a 55% increase from the previous year. The vast majority of these incidents involved cloned number plates.

However, it is important to note that many cases go unreported, so the actual prevalence of this crime may be much higher.

One of the reasons car cloning is such a prevalent problem is that it can be relatively easy to copy a number plate. Criminals can take a photograph of a legitimate number plate and then use it to create a duplicate plate that looks almost identical to the original. To make matters worse, some criminals also alter or cover up other identifying details on the vehicle, making it even more difficult to detect.

What to Do If Your Number Plate Has Been Cloned

If you suspect that your number plate has been cloned, it is important to take action immediately. Here are the steps you should take:

Report it to the police: You should report it to the police as soon as possible. They will investigate the matter and take the necessary action to ensure that the criminal is caught.

Notify your insurance company: If you have comprehensive insurance, you should notify your insurance company about the cloned number plate. They may be able to provide you with assistance or advice on how to deal with the situation.

Change your number plate: If your number plate has been cloned, you may need to change it. You can do this by contacting the DVLA and requesting a new number plate.

If you receive a fine for a road offence that you didn’t commit, it could be a sign that your number plates have been cloned. In such a situation, you should take the following steps:

  1. Gather as much evidence as possible that proves your innocence, such as CCTV footage or GPS data.
  2. Contact the police immediately so that they can catch and prosecute the person who is impersonating you.
  3. Inform the DVLA about the incident by providing them with your crime reference number.
  4. Return any fines or correspondence that you have received for the offence to the issuing authority.

How to Avoid Your Number Plate Being Cloned

There are several steps that you can take to avoid your number plate from being cloned:

  1. Have a personalised plate fitted: Personalised plates are unique and stand out more, which can put off criminals as they usually go for something less conspicuous and recognisable.
  2. Park in a secure location: When possible, park your vehicle in a secure location such as a garage, private driveway, or well-lit area with CCTV cameras.
  3. Use security screws: You can use tamper-proof screws to attach your number plates to your vehicle, which can make it more difficult for criminals to remove or replace them.
  4. Don’t leave your number plates visible: When your vehicle is unattended, try and leave it out of sight or under a protective cover. This can prevent criminals from taking pictures or copying the details of your number plates.
  5. Check your number plates regularly: Regularly check your number plates to ensure that they have not been tampered with or replaced. If you notice any signs of damage or alteration, report it to the authorities immediately.
  6. Be vigilant: Be aware of any suspicious behaviour around your vehicle, such as people taking pictures or showing an unusual interest in your number plates. If you suspect that your number plates have been cloned, report it to the authorities immediately.

How to Report Illegal Number Plates?

If you see a vehicle that you believe is using an illegal number plate, you should report it to the police. You should provide them with as much information as possible, including the make and model of the vehicle, the registration number, and the location of the vehicle.

What happens if someone reports your license plate number to the police? If someone reports a cloned license plate number to the police, the police will investigate the matter further. The police will try to locate the cloned vehicle and the person using it.

If the cloned vehicle is located, the police will impound the vehicle and may charge the driver with an offence, such as using an illegal number plate or theft.

It is important to take proactive steps to protect your number plates. This includes using tamper-proof screws, parking in a secure location, and considering personalised plates. If you suspect that your number plates have been cloned, report it to the police immediately and take action to protect yourself from further fraudulent activity.


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