Motor Industry News
Car crime experts yesterday praised the jailing of an international gang of car cloners who made £4.5m selling luxury stolen vehicles but warned that the illegal trade was on the increase.
As 10 members of the London-based gang began sentences ranging from community service to five years in prison for their part in selling stolen cars to unsuspecting victims, a spokesman for mycarcheck.com claimed the racket was just the tip of the iceberg.
“Every day cars are stolen and given false new identities before being sold on to ordinary members of the public. Often the buyers are delighted at having found a 'bargain' only to find that instead of getting a Ferrari, Porsche or such like for a knockdown price they have lost their money and bought a heap a trouble of instead.”
"Car cloning is big business," said Roger Powell, General Manager of mycarcheck.com.
"Almost every police force across Britain has reported a rise in the number of incidents in recent months."
Often criminals copy the identity of a legitimate vehicle to put on an identical stolen one which is then used in other crimes or sold as quickly as possible, often for a fraction of is true value. Often the proceeds from the car sales are used to finance other illegal activities.
"There is not a day goes by without innocent people calling mycarcheck.com and telling us about how they have become victims," said Mr Powell.
"Often people pay thousands for a new car only to find it has been stolen and they lose their money and their car."
It is estimated that of the 35m or so vehicles on Britain's roads as many as one in three could have something to hide, but with the used car industry in the UK worth more than £28bn a year, it is a major attraction for organised criminals.
The gang sentenced at Southward Crown Court yesterday (Friday) are believed to have stolen more than 190 high-class cars, often at gunpoint, and then resold them with new identities cloned from cars written off in Europe.
It is estimated by police and car crime experts that there are already thousands of cloned vehicles on Britain's roads, made worse by the rise in Internet trading.
"Some people find it hard to resist a luxury car which is often offered at two-thirds of its expected value," said Mr Powell, whose company has just launched a nationwide television campaign to urge more motorists to check the history of their vehicles.
"People are all too often so keen to get a bargain they leave their brains at home." "The police have done a great job in breaking up this ring of car thieves but, as long as there is big money to be made cloning, it is likely to become a bigger problem in the future."