With as many as one in 12 of the 37 million vehicles on UK roads likely to have cloned registration plates, TRACKER is putting the spot light on bike cloning. Whilst vehicle cloning is most commonly associated with cars, it is increasingly being used to hide the identity of stolen motorcycles.

Over 26,000 motorcycles are stolen every year, which are often used for serious criminal offences such as burglaries and robberies.

Cloning is the vehicle equivalent of identity fraud – criminals steal a motorbike or scooter and give it a new identity copied from a similar make and model bike already on the road.

The criminal disguises the unique 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the stolen motorcycle and uses a stolen V5/logbook to try to legitimise its identity. A vehicle with a cloned identity is all the more difficult for the police to identify, and in turn, easier for the thief to sell on.

Andy Barrs, Head of Police Liaison at TRACKER, said: “Fraudsters continue to use more sophisticated methods to hide the true identity of stolen motorcycles and then sell them on to innocent buyers who think they’re getting a dream bike at a bargain price. The majority of bikes that are stolen are less than 3 years old and a staggering 80% of all cloned motorcycles end up in the dealer network.

“£12.5 million worth of stolen vehicles were recovered by TRACKER last year alone, but there remain a significant number of stolen vehicles circulating on the UK’s roads, including motorbikes.

“For every 5 motorcycles and scooters stolen in the UK this year, only two are expected to be recovered. Although a good number of motorcycles are stolen to order or for their parts, many are sold at a low price to entice consumers into parting with their cash.”

Fraudsters use cloning to sell a stolen motorcycle for a quick profit, so buyers should look out for a great looking bike with a ‘too good to be true’ price tag.

Check its market value and avoid anything that’s being offered for less than 70% of that price. No legitimate seller will want to lose money on a sale. Buyers should never pay cash only for a vehicle, particularly if they are paying more than £3000. Most crooks would rather walk away from a sale than take a payment that can be traced back to them.

Andy Barrs concludes, “Whilst a tracking device won’t stop a motorbike being stolen, it can significantly increase the chances of the police locating and returning it to its rightful owner. Without any SVR protection, the probability of a stolen bike being offered for sale as a clone is greatly increased.”