Cases of criminals found to have cloned cars to evade detection have increased dramatically in London since the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone, a new report reveals.
Transport for London figures, previously unseen, show that following the October expansion of the zone, the number of canceled penalty charge notifications associated with vehicles using duplicate license plates increased by 631 percent. I am.
These were originally issued to innocent drivers for ULEZ entry payment failures on non-compliant vehicles, perhaps to cover up criminal activity after it was proven that the offending vehicle was using a copycat license plate. It is a penalty that was done. Rather than simply avoiding a £ 12.50 per day charge.
The larger potential catchment areas carried out by CCTV cameras have highlighted the scale of vehicle cloning by criminals to avoid detection in the capital and throughout the country.
Is car cloning increasing? The expansion of ULEZ has revealed an increase in criminals using duplicate license plates to avoid prosecution.
This figure has been revealed by heycar, the online car market, and warns that drivers who are already in a difficult situation are being hit by an unjustified PCN for crimes they have not committed.
It analyzed data from TfL on the number of ULEZ PCNs canceled to accuse them of being a legitimate vehicle clone.
These are non-emission zone compliant vehicles (usually older than 2015 diesel vehicles and older than 2006 gasoline) that appear to be captured while driving inside the ULEZ with an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera. ) Is a ticket issued to the real owner. In town.
However, the car captured by the camera uses a duplicate plate of a legitimate vehicle.
According to TfL records, from October 2020 to April 2021, 641 PCNs capsized for this reason.
Between October 2021 and April 2022, the number of claims canceled was 4,687, an increase of 631 percent.
The ULEZ was expanded on October 25, 2021, expanding its boundaries to 18 times its size and expanding its potential catchment area from the congestion charge zone in central London to the North and South Ring Roads.
Comparing April 2021 when the blockade restrictions were lifted in the UK with the same month of this year, the data show that capsized PCNs associated with cloned vehicles increased by 857% (up from 61 fines to 584 fines). I am.
Car cloning can take many forms by criminals physically stealing license plates from similar vehicles or illegally mounting fake plates on models.
They use a variety of tactics to identify suitable vehicles for cloning. For example, scrutinize a sales website to find a car that matches your description, then buy an illegal matchplate and steal its identity.
Duplicate license plates are typically used on vehicles that have been stolen, lost, or used illegally.
If a PCN is issued due to a cloned car, a legitimate registration keeper must provide evidence to satisfy the ticket issuer that the car was not driven at the time and place where the alleged violation occurred. ..
The ULEZ was expanded 18 times in size in October when the boundaries moved from central London to the North and South Ring Roads.
Anyone who fails to sue will face a £ 160 ULEZ PCN fee. This will be reduced to £ 80 if paid within 14 days.
Car cloning is part of a significant increase in vehicle crime over the past few years.
A total of 88,915 vehicles were stolen in the 12 months to March 7, 2022, according to 34 police responding to a request for freedom of information from PA news agencies. This works well with an average of 244 thefts per day.
The largest year-over-year increase was in South Yorkshire, where stolen motors increased by 28 percent.
Car owners also had to be smart in the fight against keyless car theft and face an increase in theft of parts such as catalytic converters torn from the underside of petrol cars.
Car cloning can take many forms if a criminal physically steals a license plate from a similar vehicle or duplicates a fake plate to illegally create it.
Commenting on the findings, heycar consumer editor Sarah Tooze said the TfL cloning numbers are “the tip of the iceberg” because some drivers cannot prove innocence to the authorities.
“Many drivers cannot provide the evidence that TfL needs to cancel a PCN because the vehicle is a clone,” she explained.
“Appeals to the PCN process can also be complex and intimidating, which means that more victims will pay fines to avoid stress and end the problem.
“The actual number of cloned cars is much higher in London and elsewhere in the UK, but there are no official national statistics available to the public.
“We are asking DVLA to publish car cloning figures so that drivers can see the true scale of the problem in the UK.
“Transparent about this serious crime and stricter regulations to prevent innocent drivers from being fined or, worse, unknowingly buying cloned cars and losing thousands of pounds. We need to improve our sex. “
As with better precautions, the process of proceedings for victims needs to be improved.
According to a Heycar study, car cloning victims will spend a great deal of effort to prove innocence to some local governments and transportation agencies that issue PCNs that require information from police. You may be forced to do so.
“Victims of car clones should be treated that way,” Toes adds.
“Instead, they may face” guilty until proven innocent “, which only adds to the already stressful situation.
Heycar provided a hint How to appeal to a PCN related to a cloned vehicle case.
My car was cloned and six PCNs worth over £ 1,000 were issued.
A 72-year-old from London, Marc Cramsie was a victim of car cloning and found the fines appeal process frustrating.
A 72-year-old from London, Marc Cramsie faced six different PCNs and could cost up to £ 1,070 when he was the victim of car cloning in 2021.
Three of the PCNs are from the congestion fee TfL, two are from the Lambeth Council because they are in the bus lane and do not comply with certain types of vehicle bans, and one is from the Brighton and Hove City Council. It was a thing. Bus Lane.
Mark paid the first fine he received, but soon realized that his car had been duplicated when the PCN arrived further and decided to appeal. This process took a total of 6 months, despite evidence of innocence.
“In the case of Brighton’s PCN, I wasn’t in that country at the time. I had flight details and a boarding pass, which didn’t impress the council,” he explains.
Mark’s car had a parking sticker on the windshield, but the cloned car didn’t. However, that fact did not overturn the PCN.
Both TfL and Brighton & Hove City Council wanted evidence that police were investigating Mark’s car being cloned.
“They were asking for police station details and a crime reference number, but when I called the police, they recorded my call but couldn’t treat it as a crime, so I Did not give a criminal reference to him, “he said.
When a driver reports that his car has been duplicated in the UK, police are likely to have a duplicate ID and a marker that allows police to stop the car and see who owns it. Places in the Police National Computer Database that vehicle is.
Sussex police assist Mark by writing a letter to the Brighton and Hove City Council to confirm what he said, and the Metropolitan Police Department emails Lambeth to receive confirmation that the case has been accepted. Requested Mark to send.
“There was a mismatch between how the council thinks it should run and how it actually runs,” Mark said.
Mark also reported the issue to Action Fraud, the UK’s National Reporting Center for Fraud and Cybercrime. This generated the case number, but “it doesn’t seem to make any difference.”
Eventually, Mark brought his proceeding to court and was successful.
“The judges noticed that there were two bolt holes in the license plate of the cloned car, which seems to be the decisive factor,” he said.
Mark then sent a letter to TfL and the Lambeth Council, stating that Brighton granted his appeal and they both canceled the PCN. However, Lambeth did not refund the first PCN Mark paid because he lost the right to appeal.
“It seems that there are a lot of presumptions that you are guilty until you can prove your innocence,” Mark said.
“People who are less stubborn than me can be scared just to pay when they don’t need it.”
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Car license plate cloning issues highlighted by the ULEZ extension
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