In just one year, the number of car cloning cases in London alone have risen by 50%, according to recent data. Similar levels of cloning may be across the UK, but has yet to be confirmed.
A study looked at the number of penalty charge notices cancelled due to car cloning. Throughout 2016, there were 1099 recorded cases, which increased to 1652 by the end of 2017. The numbers have continued to rise throughout 2018 as car cloning becomes more and more of a concern.
However, it is likely that the actual number of cloned cars on London’s roads is much higher. The penalty charge notice appeal process is complex and lengthy, likely putting many people off who would find it easier to pay the £65 fee. Also, the congestion charges only operate Monday to Friday, leaving two days of the week unmonitored.
In order to appeal against a fine issued to a cloned vehicle, evidence from the registered owner is required to show that their car was elsewhere during the time the penalty was procured. Dash camera footage could prove critical in these cases. Without evidence, appeals may not be accepted.
What is Car Cloning
Car cloning is a form of stealing the identity of another car by changing the clone cars number plate to match another, usually of a similar make and model. This results in any offences committed in the cloned vehicle will result in the registered owner of the real license plate being charged.
Cars are usually cloned to disguise a stolen vehicle. However, they are also often used to avoid speeding or parking fines, or even in serious crimes such as robbery and drug trafficking.
What Has Been Said
Daniel Powell, Managing Editor for HonestJohn.co.uk had this to say:
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. On the grounds that it is down to the car owner to prove they are innocent, it would be safe to assume that the true figure for car cloning in London is significantly higher as many drivers will be unable to supply the evidence TfL requires to cancel the PCN.”
“For those involved, it can be a very frightening and stressful experience because they will be threatened with crippling fines and court action if they cannot provide comprehensive proof that they were not on the capital’s roads. It also raises an important question – how many drivers simply pay the fine to avoid the stress?”
“There are a number of steps car owners can take to protect themselves, with the most obvious one being photos of their car to show the subtle differences between the clone and legitimate vehicle. Legal number plates usually have the manufacturer’s logo on them, while the clones are usually blank. CCTV footage will also prove a car’s location at a certain time, along with footage from a dash camera with GPS tracking.”
In response to this research, TfL said: “Prior to issuing the PCN we manually verify that the image of the vehicle observed in the zone matches the vehicle information provided by the DVLA. Only when there is a match is a penalty issued. At the point of issuing the penalty, we would not know if a vehicle had been cloned.”
“On receipt of the penalty, a motorist can follow the representations and appeals procedure and challenge a PCN. If we receive a representation stating a vehicle has been cloned we request evidence to confirm this.”