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How to identify and avoid buying cloned and stolen vehicles

Cloned Cars

The Home Office confirmed 101,198 reported vehicle thefts in 2021, more than double the figure published by the DVLA in February. In the below guide, you can get the information about the stolen clocked and cloned cars.

How can you identify a cloned car?

When buying a used car, one must know the risk of purchasing a cloned vehicle. In the UK, a car is cloned every 11 minutes, so it’s essential to understand how to identify a stolen and cloned cars before you buy.

One way to tell if a car is stolen is to check the V5C form (also known as the logbook) and also check the stolen and cloned cars. This form should have the name and address of the registered keeper – if this isn’t the same as the seller’s address, the car may have been cloned. You can check the DVLA website to see the personal details of the registered keeper.

Another way to tell if a car is cloned is to check the number plate and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). These should match the details on the V5C form – if they don’t, the plate or VIN may have been cloned from another vehicle. Finally, ensure you get an invoice with the seller’s full address and contact details – this will help you trace them if there are any problems with the car later on. By following these simple steps, you can help to protect yourself from buying a stolen car.

You should check the paperwork first. If the seller has created a fake address, registration or insurance documents, they may use these to sell the car. Also, ensure that the V5C logbook is genuine.

The best way to confirm is to perform a cloned car check highlighting if the vehicle has the cloned or recovered marker recorded by PNC. This is because if you buy a stolen car unknowingly, the police will seize the car, and you will lose your hard earned money and the vehicle.

Understanding Cloned and Ringing Cars

Unfortunately, ringing cars are a terrible fact of life in the automotive industry. These cars have been stolen, and their identities are falsely modified to look like real cars. However, cloned cars are those that have had the identities of other, legitimately registered cars copied; as a result, the owner of the original car frequently finds themselves to be in trouble with the law.

Then what are ringing and cloning? 

These are the two main techniques criminals use to conceal the fact that a vehicle has been stolen and to support its justification.

What is a clocked car?

A clocked car is a vehicle with a false mileage reading recorded on it. This is usually done to make the car seem like it has lower mileage than it actually does, increasing its value. Clocking is illegal in the UK and can result in heavy fines.

Buyers should be aware of this practice, as it can significantly impact the value of a car. The DVLA ( has more information on clocked cars. You can also check the MOT history of a vehicle to see if its mileage has been reduced at any point. Mileage discrepancies are one of the many things to watch out for when buying a used car in the UK.

For example, a car with 100,000 miles on the odometer may only be worth £1,500, but its value will drop lower if the actual mileage is closer to 150,000 miles.

What is the purpose of car cloning?

The main purpose of car cloning is to conceal the real identity of a stolen vehicle. Criminals can make it seem as though a car has a different license plate and legal registration by cloning it. This can aid them in avoiding law enforcement discovery because automated number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, which are frequently employed in the UK, only verify the registration number and not whether the number plate belongs to another car.

It becomes challenging to tell a successfully cloned car apart from the real car it is copying. This enables thieves to drive the cloned car at will without drawing suspicion from law enforcement.

What is a car ringing?

Car ringing is finding a stolen vehicle and returning it to its rightful owner. In most cases, this involves checking the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) against a database of stolen cars. Once the vehicle is located, the owner can contact the insurance company and file a claim. The insurance company may sometimes write off the car. However, if the owner can prove that the car has been returned, they may be able to get a refund on their policy. Car ringing is a complicated and often dangerous process, but it can be advantageous for both the owner and the person who found the car.

VIN number

The three areas on a car where the VIN can typically be located are shown below. It is engraved into the engine bay plate or metal structure, usually using a sticker inside the door, and on the windscreen using a strip covered in plastic.

You may find out if a car has had a VIC inspection by looking at The Auto Experts report. In that situation, you ought to be cautious around the car. If it has not been stolen and has passed the VIC test, it can be driven. However, the seller must provide you with evidence proving this. The car will have already been written off, which has decreased the value of the car.


Performing a vehicle history check is the best way to avoid buying a stolen, clocked, or cloned car. By doing your homework upfront, you can save time, money, and hassle.

We hope this article has provided you with the knowledge necessary to make an informed purchase. Thanks for reading!

Related Article:

How do I spot a car that has been cloned?

How do I find a car owner by registration number?

Check if a vehicle logbook is original.