Attack of the Clones !



Guest bloggers this time around in the form of PC’s Ennis and Wheaver from the Road Harm Reduction Team. So put on your favourite festive tune, get yourself a glass of eggnog or mulled wine and read all about their specialist area, and how taking their advice could save you from becoming a victim when buying a second hand car.

 Just to introduce ourselves, we are commonly known as TB 97 and TB 98, 2 motorcyclists currently with the Road Harm Reduction Team, as part of the CMPG family based at Perry Barr. We are both trained to a national standard, in the identification of stolen vehicles and plant machinery.


Our main focus within the team is the prevention and detection of stolen and cloned vehicles, with the aim to prevent dangerous and sometimes fatal incidents of driving, by depriving the criminals the vehicles in the first place. In the short time we have been involved in this area, we have been responsible for the recovery of over 30 vehicles, to a value approaching £450,000, and average of around £15,000 each!!


We also have responsibility for all matters of motorcycles and plant machinery, and will be posting about these subjects soon.


As serving Police officers we see the pain of stolen vehicles on a daily basis, the theft of a vehicle can be a traumatic experience, without considering the inconvenience and financial loss. This experience is also mirrored by those unsuspecting victims of car cloning, who often part with large sums of money, only to see the vehicle being identified and recovered by the Police with no financial compensation offered.


We have prepared this post with the intention of preventing future victims, and keeping funds out of the hands of the criminals. The only way to drive down this type of crime is to make sure there is no market for it.


We hope you find the information useful, and would ask that you share with as many of your friends and family as possible.

High value vehicles are often sold for cash to unsuspecting buyers, this vehicle was nearly sold for £18000 cash before being intercepted by officers.

When vehicles are stolen there is much debate on where they go, it is rumoured that they are exported to far off countries, broken for spares, and used for further criminal activities and anti-social use.


A proportion of stolen vehicles, and by no means is this restricted to hi value high end vehicles, are cloned and sold on, in many cases to innocent purchasers who have saved hard to buy their vehicle of choice, it is a heart breaking experience for the buyer to subsequently lose the car and their cash Because they have been conned by organised criminals who have exploited them. It is equally heart breaking for officers to have to seize stolen vehicles from innocent purchasers.


It is worth remembering that the title of stolen property will always remain with the loser of that property, unless they have been compensated by an insurance policy, in this instance the title will pass to the insurance company. In short if you buy stolen property, whether you have any knowledge of it being stolen or not, it will never belong to you.


Even damaged stolen vehicles of lesser value can be sold for repair; a hpi check would have revealed its history. Vehicles that are extensively damaged are often used as recipient vehicles for stolen parts

With the above in mind, prevention is definitely better than cure, if we, as purchasers, take a few moments to carry out diligent checks we may be able to prevent losing our money and importantly not putting cash in the hands of organised criminals

Below we have listed some of what we feel are the most common areas that purchasers seem to overlook when buying used cars. The list is by no means exhaustive and hopefully they will help buyers to think of some more areas they can consider.



  • Research the vehicle before you go. Know where to find the visible Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) normally in a small cut out window in the windscreen. There are pictures of authentic numbers on the internet, you could take photos of authentic vehicles ID, why not print them off and take them with you for comparison?



  • Check the chassis number of the vehicle; this is embossed on the frame / chassis & will match the visible VIN. Again a little research before you attend to view the vehicle may pay dividends and help with confidence as it will confirm that you know what you are talking about!



  • If there is only one key for the vehicle be extra cautious. It is rare for a car to be stolen with more than one key, check all the keys work as they should and check that they are not obvious copies, do they all look the same? They should!


The old blue V5 documents are now out of circulation and all V5 documents should now be the new red ones, they do however need to be checked carefully to check that they are authentic


  • Contact the garage that has done any service or warranty work and confirm service history details. Obtain the garages phone number independently, you might be calling the sellers friend!


  • Take a photo of the seller with the vehicle. Why would a legitimate seller object to this? Many people have smart phones now with good quality cameras, remember to keep the photos!


  • Ask to see proof of ID and check the log book is in the same name as the seller; if the seller offers some form of ID then ask to see something else.


  • Do your own HPI check; do not accept one from the seller. Don’t take anything on face value as many cloned vehicle come with a selection of cloned paperwork.


  • Research what the vehicle is worth; if it is too good to be true be extra cautious. As a general rule if a vehicle is significantly below book value there will be a reason, the seller might not share this with you.


  • Avoid cash payments as card transactions offer the buyer some protection. Be very careful if the seller is having to sell in a hurry or wants to sell outside of an online auction to save on fees or they need a quick sale due to a death in the family etc etc.



  • Don’t buy a vehicle on the street or car park, where possible attend the sellers home/ business address and check that it is their address, don’t be fobbed off, you can always walk away. Kind offers to meet you half way might be a ploy!


If you are buying something of value, take a trusted friend with you, if something doesn’t feel right then walk away.


It is too late when you say “I thought it was too good to be true”


If something seems too good to be true then it probably is!


That’s it for 2017, next blogs in 2018 will be on our efforts on the Road Harm Reduction Team to tackle dangerous and inconsiderate parking and a full Operation Closepass update and how it will progress and evolve further throughout the new year.


Safe Journeys All.



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