Car cloning is so common in the UK that police chiefs are calling for an overhaul of the numberplate system.
Cloning crimes range from using a false plate to avoid paying congestion charges or fines for motoring offences, through to hiding the identity of a stolen car. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) says 40,000 numberplates were cloned last year, 25% more than the in 2005.
ACPO has stated it has no faith that the Driver Vehicle Licensing Association's (DVLA) number plate issuing system can prevent cloning, and is calling for all cars to have tamper-proof plates issued by a central body.
ACPO's John Wake said: 'The registration plate is the first form of identification of the vehicle to the general public. I don't have confidence that beyond that you can identify that that vehicle is the legitimate vehicle for that plate.'
Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Glen Smyth said the problem has grown because of the amount of camera-based enforcement of traffic offences, which relies on computer records to identify the owner of a car.
The DVLA is considering forcing all of the UK's 1.3 million motorcycles to be fitted with plates featuring electronic tags, which are currently being trialled. It has already introduced a standard for theft-resistant number plates and has trialled microchip technology to combat cloning crimes.
• A criminal gang has been sentenced for the largest organised theft and re-registration of cars in the UK. The group stole 190 high-value cars worth an estimated £4.5million and then falsely obtained more than 300 vehicle identities from the DVLA, using the identity of cars scrapped in Belgium.
Sentences for the gang ranged from five years in prison to a 12-month suspended sentence.
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