What to Do After Falling Victim to Number Plate Theft
By: Laura Solloway
23 January 2019
Car and number plate theft has been on the rise. Due to increasingly advanced technologies in ANPR in use by the police, criminals can no longer get away with creating fake number plates. So instead they are stealing and cloning them. It can cost a lot if you have been a victim of number plate theft/cloning, not to mention the emotional stress if you don’t know what to do. Therefore, this guide aims to advise you on actions to take if your number plate has been stolen.
Typically, an individual will steal a number plate in order to divert the blame of their criminal activity towards someone else. They will attach the stolen plate to their own vehicle so that they can commit any of their crimes (speed, dangerously drive, fill up petrol and drive away without paying, etc.) without worry of repercussions - crimes detected under the number plate will be redirected back to the owner it is registered with.
Cloning involves the illegal manufacturing of a licence plate identical to another car’s, but the repercussions remain the same. Crimes committed will be directed towards the only/original owner registered under that licence plate.
Perhaps you’ve walked back to your car after shopping to discover your front plate is missing? Or you’ve come home from work one day to discover fines for a crime you haven’t committed? Stolen number plates are more common that you may think, but that doesn’t make it any less traumatising. Here are some things you can do if this has happened to you.
As soon as you become aware that you have been victim to theft/cloning of your car’s number plate, you should inform the police and the DVLA/government. Only when authorities know of a theft can they help in attempting to return the plates to you. And if they can’t, at least there’s a chance you’ll be less likely to receive incorrect fines in the future.
Stolen personalised number plates
If you have had a registration plate stolen that was personalised, the government claim that you can apply to keep the number, regardless of whether or not you retrieve the physical plate again. You must provide documents that prove the theft is legitimate, though, and that your vehicle was valid to be driven on roads. For more information visit the government’s official page on vehicle theft.
If your personalised plates have been cloned, fines through your door may be the first time you are made aware of it. In this case, you should return the fines to where they came from with a letter and any proof to explain your situation.
If you’ve notified the police and the DVLA of your situation, usually they can help you. Unfortunately, however, sometimes it is not possible. If this is the case where they have been unsuccessful in retrieving them, you may have to buy new number plates.
You could go straight to the DVLA to buy your replacement, or perhaps a cheaper number plate would be a better option? That way it will be less costly to you if it were to happen again. Wherever you choose to buy them from, however, ensure that they are a reputable company – illegal dealers who supply fake/show plates (plates made that don’t produce the accompanying identification documents required by law) are just enhancing the problem.
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As licence plate theft is so high, it might be worth implementing methods to reduce the risk of it reoccurring. Some of these include:
- Thief-proof your plates - anti-theft number plate screws (cannot be unscrewed) to indefinitely hold your plates in place, or anti-theft number plates (although expensive/not widely available) that break up into several pieces when attempted to be removed can work wonders at stopping these crimes from taking place.
- Consider where you park to deter thieves:
- Avoid quiet, dark roads/alleyways which are more likely to be targeted
- Consider parking inside an occupied garage/contained building overnight or if you plan to be somewhere else for a longer period of time
- Park close to entrances of buildings