CAR crime experts have warned a trend in car registration plate thefts across Cheshire may be more sinister than just mindless vandalism.
MyCarCheck.com has warned drivers to be alert to the increase in car cloning, which involves stolen vehicles being given a false identity.
This year, Cheshire Constabulary has recorded 50 licence plate thefts.
'Car cloning is big business,' said Roger Powell, general manager of MyCarCheck. com. 'Police forces across the country have reported a rise in the number of licence plates being pinched from cars and then used to disguise stolen or illegal vehicles.'
Criminals often steal number plates to put on identical stolen vehicles which are then used in other crimes or sold for a fraction of their true value.
Often, drivers whose plates have been stolen do not find out about the scam unless they are suddenly served with fines for speeding and parking offences.