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Motoring: Motormail: Attack of the clones.

Byline: Robin Roberts

HUNDREDS of motorists could lose their cars after they were given bogus logbooks by crooks.

The Swansea-based DVLA has warned that V5 documents which went missing last year have started surfacing with cars.

The documents should have been destroyed when a fault on them was spotted but they never reached the shredders.

Now the incorrect V5 documents have been identified by police making routine checks and when the paperwork was returned to the Swansea centre for updating and new ownership details.

Tighter checks on vehicle identity since February have made it more likely such bogus forms and car details will be discovered.

Police investigations have identified some V5 documents being used to accompany stolen vehicles that have had their identity changed to match that of a legitimate vehicle.

This practice is known as cloning.

The cloned vehicles are then sold on to unsuspecting members of the public who suffer significant losses when their vehicles are confiscated by the police.

Although police investigations are continuing, indications are that there are at least several hundred of these documents in circulation.

DVLA is therefore warning motorists to look out for: Registration documents that bear the prefix AP in their serial number (at the top left hand corner of the document) and fall within the following ranges: AP 8022601 to AP 8024400 AP 942801 to AP 9426600 AP 9430201 to AP 9432000 AP 9435601 to AP 9437400 AP 9448201 to AP 9450000. In some cases the document reference number at the bottom right hand corner of the form may be missing.

There are also registration documents that bear the prefix AN and fall within the range: AN 8854201 to AN 8859600. These are faulty documents which, on close examination, will bear a serial number in slightly lighter print than the rest of the document. The serial number may also be out of alignment.

These serial numbers were duplicated by the printer after the faulty batch was rejected and so there will also be genuine registration documents in circulation bearing these numbers.

Stolen documents from both the above categories will not incorporate the usual ``ghost printing'' security feature.

This is printed under the registration number and validation character and alongside details of the vehicle identification number (VIN), engine number and cylinder capacity.

If members of the public wish to check whether a document is genuine prior to the purchase of a vehicle they should ring DVLA's helpline on 0870 241 1878.

The DVLA said they and the police were launching an investigation into the missing papers last year but to date no-one has been reported or disciplined for any offence in connection with the disappearance of the documents.

The agency claims it has tightened up on its destruction procedures since the documents went missing.

The firm which contracted to do the work had issued a certificate of destruction and inquiries are continuing.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 11, 2003
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