Vehicle cloning has become an increasingly prevalent issue in the UK, with victims facing a myriad of challenges, including unpaid fines and legal complications. Criminals are exploiting rising car ownership costs, such as high insurance premiums and daily charges for driving in restricted zones like London’s Ulez, by cloning other owners’ number plates.
In a recent case, Bouchaib Moussaid’s Kia Sportage was wrongly targeted for multiple Ulez violations in London. Despite providing evidence that his car was off the road during the alleged offenses, Transport for London (TfL) agents seized his vehicle, leading to an impending auction. Only after The Guardian’s intervention was Moussaid reunited with his car, and all fines were dropped.
The rise in cloned cars is a growing concern, with criminals targeting vehicles of the same model and color, attaching copied plates to avoid detection. Motoring experts link this trend to the increased cost of car ownership. The impact on victims includes financial loss, legal complications, and potential repossession of cloned cars.
TfL data indicates a significant increase in canceled Ulez charges due to car cloning, with over 12,762 cancellations in 2022, up from 2,779 in 2021 and 1,298 in 2020. While victims are advised to act swiftly, report the crime to the police, and collect evidence to support appeals, the broader issue remains a challenge for authorities. The growth of camera enforcement exacerbates the problem, making cloning an attractive option for those seeking to evade the law.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, suggests increasing the presence of traffic police to identify cloned cars and emphasizes the need for a comprehensive solution to tackle this form of crime effectively.