Help Protect Your Vehicle from theft with a Private Registration Mark!

Correcting A Newspaper's Inaccurate Claims…
11/02/2020 Blog
Help protect your vehicle image

We at Plates4Less supply personalised registration marks and number plates to thousands of happy customers, so we were very interested (and disappointed) to read a recent article from the Daily Express that claimed such items “may be dangerous” and “could put your car at a higher risk of being stolen”.

These days, it’s no longer ‘news’ that the news is untrustworthy, and with many articles churned out to live short lives online, it is perhaps unsurprising to find them poorly expressed and riddled with inaccuracies.

While the article in question does refer to research from a “third party”, it offers little by way of statistical data. Even if there was a clear statistic to accompany their claims, it is worth noting that correlation does not imply causation, a misconception known as a questionable-cause logical fallacy (or cum hoc ergo propter hoc, if you want the fancy Latin for the term!).

That said, it is perhaps possible that a car bearing a personalised number plate is more likely to be well cared for and maybe even more expensive than an average or typical vehicle on the road, considering the extra expense the owner has gone to in order to assign a personalised registration mark. Perhaps. But putting aside the article’s lack of certainty, as expressed with “may” and “could”, and ignoring the idea that it is merely an attractive car that’s more at risk, there are a number of other issues we had with this claim and the article accompanying it, and a few inaccuracies we’d like to address.

Firstly, it is not the number plate that’s valuable but rather the private vehicle registration mark, and the value varies considerably depending on the registration mark itself, which importantly, CAN NOT BE STOLEN. Number plates, on the other hand, are merely a way of displaying the registration mark and shouldn’t cost more than £30 to £50 (per pair) to replace. To have your number plate stolen is not the same as losing your registration mark, which the article not only fails to explain, but apparently fails to even recognise. Should you find yourself the victim of number plate theft, rest assured that the rights to the vehicle registration mark remain yours. Your V5 Registration Document is proof of this.

The Express article notes that “some personalised plates can sell for thousands of pounds”, and considering how ‘registration mark’ and ‘number plate’ are often used interchangeably, this confusion is perhaps understandable. However, to claim that this makes them “more attractive to criminals” is laughable.

Surely, it’s more reasonable to presume that a distinctive and more memorable registration mark would be less appealing to criminals?

Consider this:

If you’re going to commit a crime, isn’t it perhaps best to blend in and be forgotten, rather than stand out and be remembered?…

Lego car with 'ROB 32Y' as the personalised plate

Similarly, whilst it’s true that you must notify your insurance provider when you assign a personalised registration mark to your vehicle, this is not because of the value of the registration mark, but rather a matter of ensuring their records of your vehicle are accurate, should you ever need to make a claim. This certainly does not affect your insurance premium, and claims that your car may be “a higher target” to thieves due to the display of a distinctive registration mark is not only unlikely, but very difficult to prove. Thieves are not after your registration mark; they are after your vehicle!

It is true that should your vehicle be written off, any private registration mark assigned to it automatically becomes the property of the insurer when the claim is paid out. However, this is easily avoided in 2 ways. Firstly, the free way, by telling your insurer that ”in the event of a total loss claim, the registration mark will remain in your ownership as your property”. Or secondly, by transferring the registration mark to a government holding certificate before declaring the vehicle a write-off, a process known as putting the registration on retention. Currently this costs £80 and covers the cost of assigning the registration mark to another vehicle in the future.

The Daily Express article becomes more accurate when it shifts focus to talk about cloning. With Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology becoming more widely used to issue fines for motoring offences, criminals have started replacing their number plates with those bearing a different registration mark. Absolutely any registration mark can be targeted by criminals in this way, with efforts being made to clone those assigned to vehicles that match the make and colour of the offender’s vehicle. This is why it is always advisable when advertising a vehicle for sale, it’s number plates are obscured or pixelated, in the photo advert. We wrote an article on this recently including some measures you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of cloning or how you can best resolve the issue.

In short, you do not face any additional risk of car theft simply for having a personalised registration mark. Indeed, if you were going to make leaps of judgment based on little or no accurate data, it would be sensible to presume that displaying a distinctive registration mark would help protect your vehicle.

If you are considering buying one but have concerns, a member of our team will be happy to help put your mind at ease. You can call us on 01792 477316.