More than half of motorists cannot tell a genuine vehicle registration certificate from a fake one, it was revealed today.
And 20 per cent of drivers do not even know what a registration certificate (known as a V5C) is for, a survey by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) showed.
It said the results were ‘a massive concern’ as fake and stolen V5Cs are being used increasingly by criminals to disguise the identity of stolen vehicles.
In recent years, DVLA has detected over a thousand fake or stolen V5Cs featuring characteristics such as forged watermarks and illegitimate serial numbers.
At present, fake documents with a BG916 to 919 prefix are circulating, and due to increasingly sophisticated methods used by criminals, many motorists are being duped into thinking that these documents, and the cars they are buying, are genuine.
The DVLA survey also revealed that 11 per cent of motorists have, in the past, bought a second-hand car without checking the paperwork.
Figures from the British Crime Survey also indicate there are an estimated 30,000 – 40,000 vehicles being ‘ringed’ or cloned each year, and according to the latest police data, an estimated 33,000 number plates were stolen during 2005.
John Moore, from DVLA’s crime reduction unit, said: ‘When purchasing a car, always check the serial number of the registration certificate. If the serial number begins with a prefix between BG916 and BG919 contact DVLA or the police as there are currently stolen documents with this prefix in circulation.’
DCI Stuart Dark of the Metropolitan Police’s stolen vehicle squad said: ‘We want to hamper the criminals determined to exploit innocent motorists by ensuring that people understand what to look out for when buying a vehicle.
‘It is crucial that the public arm themselves against this type of car crime by carrying out a range of checks to ensure their purchase is legitimate.’
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