The pressure to update vehicles is immense, but as it’s announced that one in 12 vehicles on the road could have cloned registration plates, Fleet Evolution, one of the UK’s premier providers of salary sacrifice vehicles, has warned car buyers against purchasing vehicles from disreputable sources.

Lower emissions, better fuel economy, and lower road tax are just some of the reasons why people update their cars. However with 37 million vehicles on UK roads, and new research suggesting that over 3.5 million of those could have cloned registration plates, the dangers of buying second-hand cars has been never been higher.

Cloned vehicles are essentially cars whose identity is disguised by the false use of an authorised registration, or the number plate characters amended to create a car that does not exist. It is estimated that about 1.75 million vehicles in the UK are wearing cloned registration plates. This is made up of 250,000 vehicles of all types, including cars, motorcycles, HGVs, vans, caravans, motor homes, plant and agricultural machinery that were reported stolen last year, as well as the 500,000 vehicles written off by insurers. There are also about a million vehicles still unrecovered from the last decade. The remainder of the one in 12 total, which equates to about 1.25 million vehicles, is made up of legitimate registrations that have been doctored so they read differently.

Andrew Leech, Director of Fleet Evolution said, “As criminals get smarter, it’s getting harder know the history of the vehicles we are buying. Purchasing new cars is the only sure-fire way to know that the cars people are buying are the cars people are getting. Car Salary Sacrifice Schemes are a great way of ensuring that drivers are protected against the dangers of cloned cars, as all cars are brand new – direct from manufacturers.

More than 100,000 sets of number plates are stolen every year. However many more will have been altered with paint, pens or black tape to deceive ANPR cameras or witnesses to a crime. Those who find themselves in the possession of a cloned vehicle can face harsh penalties, often having their vehicle taken away or crushed.