Fuel costs increase car cloning risk
Posted on March 26, 2011 by Number Plates
Record high petrol and diesel pump prices in the UK are increasing the risks of car cloning as both organised crime and petty thieves exploit easy ways to fill up without paying.
As fuel costs steadily increase, so does the return for criminals using stolen or false plates on cars and commercials in what threatens to become an epidemic of “fill and fly” driving away from filling stations without paying for the fuel loaded. Stolen or fake plates that are recorded on security cameras are easily dumped, making it virtually impossible for police to trace the car used to steal the petrol or diesel.
The average price of petrol in the UK has reached around £6 a gallon – so that a full tank of petrol in a car like a Mondeo can be worth over £90 – nearly £100 if it is diesel. Fuel could soon overtake depreciation as the highest running cost for a typical car, making what the Americans call “gas and dash” driveaway thefts from filling stations increasingly likely. Crooks can turn over thousands of pounds a day with these tactics, with comparatively little risk of detection.
Higher fuel costs are also stimulating the use of cloned credit cards for petrol and diesel purchases – often the theft of a vehicle identity will be combined with the theft of credit cards and other personal identity documents. That is why www.Speedyreg.co.uk – one of the leading UK suppliers of personalised number plates – has published a free ebook with advice on combating both vehicle and personal identity theft. You can download it from http://www.speedyreg.co.uk/vehiclecloningebook
“Crooks target a particular make, model and colour of vehicle and either steal the plates or buy a counterfeit set online,” says Des Elton, CEO of www.speedyreg.co.uk. “Then those plates are fixed to a car or commercial – which is often stolen also – to be used to lay a false trail after driveaway fuel thefts or other crimes.
“Vehicle cloning and plate stealing result in many innocent motorists now facing accusations of being involved in a whole range of crimes – from dodging speeding penalties and congestion charges to more serious offences such as armed robbery. The vehicle used provides the most obvious clues for investigators, leading them on a false trail that can cause great problems for the legitimate owner of the cloned registration number.
“The innocent legal owner of the registration may even become the prime suspect in a serious criminal investigation”
Crooks tend to steer clear of personalised distinctive numbers – they want a registration plate that is as unremarkable as possible. Speedyreg is adding an additional safeguard by supplying free anti-theft mounting screws with all the number plates it supplies.
“In theory, the British Standard for plates and new requirements about how they are issued should be reducing the numbers of fakes, but I fear this is not the case,” says Mr. Elton. A big problem is that the databases of registrations used by investigators may be out of date and poorly maintained because of shortages of trained staff , another factor of the economic situation.”
As Speedyreg.co.uk updates its database of nearly 35 million UK registration numbers every 24 hours, it is making its digital and paper records available to clients needing to challenge the authorities if their vehicles have been falsely identified as being involved in a crime. Recently the Speedyreg database helped secure the release of an innocent driver who had been detained – along with his truck and cargo – because of an error in an official database.
There is more advice for motorists on fuel costs, cloning and other topical issues at www.speedyreg.co.uk , and the free ebook at http://www.speedyreg.co.uk/vehiclecloningebooks can be downloaded and read on a smartphone, PC, or Kindle or other ereader.