Numberplate Thefts On The Rise

Sat 10th Sep 2022

A report published this week has highlighted the growing concern of numberplate thefts in the UK.

Criminals target numberplates in order to use them on similar vehicles to escape detection while committing crimes and while the initial theft appears to be quick and relatively easy and cheap to replace, the long term consequences could be more costly.

According to data published by Direct Line Motor Insurance, there were 53,000 numberplates stolen last year, and analysts suggest that due to the low cost nature of the crime, it is likely that many more incidents go unreported. Recent figures from Transport for London show that between October and April 2021 there were 641 penalty charge notices cancelled after ANPR captured ‘cloned’ plates committing motoring offences. Fast forward to the same period this year and that figure had risen to 4700 penalty charge notices cancelled, though the expansion of the ULEZ zone will have had some impact on that figure.

Another way in which numberplates can be cloned is by unregulated suppliers failing to check ownership details, meaning that criminals can simply purchase a numberplate, with a national newspaper recently finding six instances were details went unchecked when purchasing.

“Regulation by the DVLA is ineffective and prosecutions are rare,” Ian Southern, managing director of Fourdot, a numberplate supplier told Autocar.

“We have asked it to allow us to validate a purchaser and their link to the vehicle using its database, as a member of the British Parking Association can, but it has refused. Abroad, online suppliers working cross-border in places such as the Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands ignore the DVLA requirement for proof of entitlement and identity.”

In the Autocar report, the DVLA responded to state that the issue of numberplate theft was a matter for the police though it refused to comment on the number prosecutions for unregulated suppliers.