Attack of the Clones Episode II A New Hope

In a recent article we told you about one of our customers, Mr 'Jones' (real name withheld for safety), who found himself the victim of number plate cloning, receiving several fines as the result of someone else's motoring offences. Well, we're pleased to say he was able to prove his innocence and is now the proud owner of a new private registration mark.
21/01/2020 News
clone wars number plates

Mr Jones first learnt about the cloning when he received a demand for payment in the post. In the time it took to report and resolve the issue he’d received several more, with the total amount of fines reaching a painful £400. Angry and upset, Mr Jones contacted the DVLA.

“Number plate cloning is a crime” says a DVLA spokesperson. “Any motorist who believes their number plate may have been cloned should contact the police. They should also contact the issuing authority of any fines or penalties they receive with appropriate evidence that shows their vehicle was not in the area at the time.”

With photographic evidence, Mr Jones was eventually able to prove himself the victim as there were various differences between his car and the offending vehicle. His number plate was slightly different in style, for example, and he had different windscreen wipers, as well as a bumper that was a different shape. However, it took a while for this evidence to be accepted.

And not just for Mr Jones…

Since posting our article, we’ve received a great deal of comment via Facebook, with many people sharing Mr Jones’ experience and frustrations. In Mr Richardson’s case, he had to prove the whereabouts of his motorcycle three times and initiate a fraud case before his problem was addressed. However, it’s not always easy to prove your whereabouts. Mr Clifton noted that even though he has a dash cam that time-stamps its footage while also recording GPS coordinates, he would need to keep the footage for 28 days because of how long it can take a ticket to be issued. What’s more, he’d need to transfer them to his computer to ensure they weren’t automatically overwritten by his device…….and of course, this would only help if he was out driving at the precise time of the motoring offence, or else there’d be nothing recorded.

Not that footage would necessarily help. Mr Reece, didn’t find the police helpful at all when it happened to him, despite being able to provide a recording of himself with the vehicle as evidence to the contrary. Only after several vehicle inspections and some applications for CCTV footage could the matter be resolved. Mr Moran, too, complains that there was a “lot of messing about” to prove the vehicles in his case were different, and recommends taking pictures prior to any event – the deciding factor in his case was having a tow bar on his vehicle that the other lacked. Mr Wilson agrees that taking a picture is a good idea and advises putting a sticker somewhere near your plate so it can be differentiated from any future culprit.

car number plates being cloned

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to clone some else’s number plate, with ‘display’ or ‘show’ plates available to buy online, without any need to provide proof of ownership. As a road- legal plate from a registered manufacturer will display their details on the plate, this does mean you might be able to present a clear difference between your own plate and that of an offending vehicle, but there’s no guarantee. Mr Agar commented on our Facebook page that when his local Autocentre was once broken into, the criminals used their time inside to produce a number of sets of ‘road legal’ false number plates. Plus, there are still some legally registered suppliers, who aren’t so strict about demanding customer identification or proof of ownership of the registration mark.

In an effort to reduce instances of cloning, the DVLA have enforcement officers who work with the Police and local Trading Standards to carry out compliance and educational visits to registered suppliers. “DVLA officers conduct intelligence-led enforcement activities to tackle a wide range of offences, working with our partners to investigate and, where necessary, prosecute suppliers,” a DVLA spokesperson said. “Any motorist who believes their vehicle’s number plate may have been cloned should contact the police. They should also contact the issuing authority of any fines or penalties they receive with appropriate evidence that shows their vehicle was not in the area at the time.”

However, the comments on our Facebook post suggest that even when you can prove a difference between vehicles, or otherwise show that you are not responsible for the ticket or fine, the process can be very time-consuming. For Mr Pearson’s brother-in-law, who had to have his vehicle inspected at his own cost to prove his innocence, the whole matter took the best part of 18 months to resolve!

That said, there were those who had the issue resolved very promptly. Mr Baker found that his local police couldn’t be more helpful, with the offending vehicle stopped and caught some 3 days later. Still, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.