Plaistow widow warns of number plate cloning dangers
PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 December 2016
A great-grandmother handed hundreds of pounds worth of parking fines after crooks cloned her number plate has spoken out about the ordeal.
Sylvina McMillan, of Harold Road, Plaistow, received charges totalling £640 after criminals using her copied number plate parked illegally in Tower Hamlets.
The fines appeared in August, but Sylvina did not pick them up until October after she returned from a holiday.
She had no idea her plates had been cloned until she picked up the parking bills.
She said: “I thought someone was really after me. My blood pressure went up really high so I had to be careful it didn’t give me a heart attack. All I was thinking of was that the police were going to come.”
Tower Hamlets Council, which issued four of the fines, cancelled the charges last month and advised Sylvina to contact the police.
“This whole thing gave me sleepless nights and a lot of worries,” the 71-year-old widow added. “It really stressed me out.
“I would like to know if the police have caught the person who cloned my plates.”
Number plates are stolen or cloned for a number of different reasons with criminals attempting to conceal the con by fixing the plates to a car of a similar make and model.
After stealing or cloning the plates, the shady drivers then have no need to fear the rules of the road: ignoring speed restrictions, driving off petrol station forecourts without paying and racking up parking and congestion charges for their victims.
For Justin Powell, president of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI), finding the culprits is not easy with an onus on the victims to prove their innocence.
“I would say cloning is a growing problem,” he said.
“It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to make a stolen vehicle legitimate.
“It can give victims real issues proving their innocence.”
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