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Car owners advised to brush up on DIY skills to protect themselves from identity theft.
Car crime experts are urging motorists to adopt a 'Blue Peter'-style approach to deterring number plate theft.
The low-tech solution to what is fast becoming a major problem involves the DIY approach to crime prevention using double-sided sticky tape.
It is estimated that more than 33,000 number plates are stolen each year and many of them are used by organised gangs to hide the identity of other vehicles involved in a variety of crimes. "It is certainly a crime that is on the increase." said Roger Powell, General Manager of mycarcheck.com.”
"Every police force in the country has reported a rise in number plate thefts over the last couple of years. Although some of the missing plates can be blamed on mindless vandalism, some of the crimes are carried out with far more sinister motives."
"It is estimated between 30,000 and 40,000 cars are being cloned each year. In London alone, there has been a rise of around 47% from 6,130 in 2004/05 to 9,000 in 2005/06."
Recently car crime experts recommended that drivers fix 'thief-proof plates' to their vehicles or at the very least use the kind of ultra-strong sticky tape recommended by DIY enthusiasts which is designed to withstand forces up to fifty kilograms, ensuring that anyone trying to pull it off will end up with a snapped plate.
In excess of 33,000 car identity thefts that take place every year. The majority of these are stolen number plates that are sold to criminals who put them onto another look-a-like vehicle, which is usually also stolen. The 'cloned' car is then either sold to an unsuspecting buyer or used in other crimes ranging from the theft of fuel from filling stations and avoidance of congestion charges to armed robbery and drug deals.
On other occasions the legitimate identity is used to mask a vehicle which has been put back on the road illegally following an accident. It is estimated that at some time in their lives one in six motorists have bought a 'cut-and-shut' - two cars welded together and sold as one.
"There is not a day goes by without innocent people being duped." said Roger Powell of MyCarCheck.com, one of the UK's leading vehicle data agencies.
"Often people pay thousands for a new car only to find it has been stolen or has previously been involved in an accident before being given a false identity and put back on the road."
"People should take every precaution to make sure their vehicle's identity is not hijacked but at the same time anybody considering buying a car should always carry out a detailed history check before handing over any money."
"Having your car cloned may be inconvenient at best but buying a cloned vehicle can be dangerous. It is very difficult to say how many vehicles involved in fatal accidents every year may have had a chequered past but on the basis of our research it is a fair bet that a large proportion probably had something to hide," said Mr Powell.
"People should be aware that a car may look alright but, if it has been written-off or stolen, then insurance companies may not pay out if it is ever involved in another claim."