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Car cloning in London surges

Motorists are being warned of a surge in car cloning as Transport for London data shows that Congestion Charge Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for cloned cars have rocketed in the last year.

Congestion Charge signage on Millbank

TfL is seeing a sharp rise in PCNs for cloned cars in the Congestion Charging zone

Official TfL figures obtained by HonestJohn.co.uk for 2017 show there was a 50% rise in the number of PCNs being cancelled on the grounds that the vehicle was a clone; up to 1,652 from 1,099 in 2016.

Data for the first six months of 2018 show that car cloning continues to rise, with official figures up by a third on January-June 2017.

However, the true figure for the number of cloned cars on the road in London is thought to be much higher, given the complex and lengthy PCN appeals process and the fact that the Congestion Charge zone only operates Monday to Friday – possibly leading many drivers to just pay the fine to avoid the stress.

And the London figures could be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with concerns of a similar surge in the crime across the UK.

Under cloning, criminals copy legitimate registration plates and use the fake identity to drive a similar car that may be stolen, unroadworthy and/or involved in unlawful activity.

Motorists in receipt of a PCN for a cloned vehicle are being urged to take steps to follow the representations and appeals procedure and challenge the penalty.

HonestJohn.co.uk’s managing editor, Daniel Powell said: “There are a number of steps car owners can take to protect themselves, with the most obvious one being photos of their car to show the subtle differences between the clone and legitimate vehicle. Legal number plates usually have the manufacturer’s logo on them, while the clones are usually blank. CCTV footage will also prove a car’s location at a certain time, along with footage from a dash camera with GPS tracking.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.