Over 12,000 British drivers have been fined or penalised for offences related to vehicles displaying their registration, which they did not recognise. This was revealed by recent data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Platehunter.com.

The figures indicate that reports of this crime have been increasing in recent years. In 2018, there were 4,021 complaints, while 9,384 occurred in 2019, and 7,400 in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Jon Kirkbright, sales director for Platehunter.com, said: “People come to us because they’ve had the police on their doorstep asking why they made off from a garage without paying. Others have had speeding fines in London when they’ve never been there – all because someone has cloned their plate and used it to commit crimes.”

Kirkbright further warned that these statistics indicate a growing problem of vehicle cloning that causes major inconvenience and annoyance for innocent motorists. Sometimes, months pass before victims realise their number plate has been cloned, and by then, they may have accumulated several penalties in different authorities.

The rise in cases of cloned number plates correlates with an increase in the number of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. Criminals can choose a vehicle with no prior speeding tickets or fines and replicate the registration onto their own car. To make it more difficult for the police to catch them, they may copy the number plate of a similar make, model, and colour.

Police advise that the quickest course of action to resolve a cloned plate is to inform the DVLA and change the registration plate immediately. Platehunter.com offers a service that allows motorists to obtain a replacement registration plate, and the sales director claims to have seen a 300% increase in the purchase of replacement plates in the last 12 months.

Kirkbright said: “Buying a cheap number plate from Platehunter.com will resolve all problems that come with having a number plate cloned. Best of all, it can be done the same day resulting in no further issues.”

The DVLA advises any motorist who believes their vehicle has been cloned to contact the police, as well as the issuing authority of any fines or penalties they receive, with appropriate evidence that shows their vehicle was not in the area at the time. Further advice on what to do if a vehicle has been cloned is available on the website: