Cloned car scheme wastes millions

20 Jul, 2012 2:44pm Julie Sinclair

Government wastes £30 million detecting just 38 ringers

A Government scheme designed to track down cloned cars could face the chop, following the revelation that it spent £30million over nine years yet found only 38 ringers.

Transport Minister Mike Penning revealed the shocking waste of taxpayers’ money in a statement last week, while opening a public consultation into the future of the Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) scheme.

The crime of vehicle cloning, or ringing, typically involves the theft of a high-value car. This is then given the identity of a cheaper version of the same make, model and colour, which has been the subject of an insurance write-off. This is done by transferring the VIN and reg number to the stolen car which, now seemingly genuine, can be sold at market price.

Penning explained that the VIC scheme is designed to deter criminals, by forcing all buyers of written-off vehicles to have their car inspected by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) before it can be re-registered.

However, when Auto Express pointed out that unsuspecting motorists would discover the crime only once they’d sent their fake V5C back to the DVLA – after they’d been duped into buying the ringer – it was met with an “I guess” from one VOSA engineer. He admitted the scheme had adopted a broad-brush approach, expecting even motorists who buy back their own written-off vehicles to pay for the £41 VOSA inspection.

Conceding that 75 per cent of checks were made on cars aged seven years or older, Penning said: “The cost fell on the less well-off members of society,” and that “the scheme has become an unnecessary burden to many honest drivers.” Yet a VOSA spokesman claimed the “low number” of ringers identified via VIC “could represent its success in deterring ringers”. ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service was unable to confirm whether cloning rates had dropped noticeably.