Number Plate Crime
"Twinning" is the term used for fitting number plates to a vehicle that have come from a donor car of identical type and colour. Typically, the car is then used either to commit a crime or just used day to day for the purpose of avoiding speeding tickets, parking tickets and congestion charge payments, and for the theft of petrol as the registration number is traceable to the owner of the donor vehicle and not the perpetrator of the crime.
‘Cloning’ is a much more thorough version of ‘Twinning’ as it includes the removal and replacement of all serial numbers from the vehicle (Chasses, engine, VIN, gearbox, etc.) as well as creating false documents for it, making it much more difficult to tell the real car from the ‘forgery’. It’s a process more commonly used for the purpose of re-selling stolen vehicles to unsuspecting customers.
The UK Government recently introduced laws requiring a number plate purchaser to produce some personal identification and the vehicle registration documents when buying replacement plates from a retailer. It is also a requirement that the company making the registration plates must display their name and post code to make it easier for the police to trace false plates back to the manufacturer and so trace the person who bought them. The company name is normally shown at the bottom / centre of the number plate. These legislations came into force in 2001 when the ‘Current Style’ of number plate was introduced but apply to all registration plates made after that year, regardless of the year of issue. As such any vehicle with registration plates that look new but lack any details of where they were made should be treated with suspicion when buying a car.
‘Show Plate’ is the term used for novelty number plates (EG; where you might have your child’s name put on a number plate for their bedroom door). This is a grey area of the law as there are no rules covering the production of ‘signs’. Even so, since the introduction of the 2001 legislation, theft of number plates from vehicles has become more wide spread even though ‘Show Plates’ are widely available to purchase on the internet with no identity checks. Number plate theft is preferable for criminals as they don’t want to leave any record of their having purchased even ‘Show Plates’.
Tamper-resistant number plates, which cannot be removed from a vehicle without destroying them, may be introduced in the future in a bid to tackle this problem. Ironically the DVLA effectively banned ‘Adhesive Number Plates’ (like that used on the bonnet of an E Type Jaguar) in 2001 which were tamper-proof by design.