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New car cloning checks called for

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New checks should be carried out on used vehicles to help stop "car cloning", according to the top car crime police chief in the country.

Unwary members of the public are buying cars given false number plates and papers from gangs of "well organised" criminals, said Det Chief Insp Mark Hooper, who heads the Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The officer believes that independent checks should be made on the vehicle, as well as the buyer and seller, to ensure that everything is in order.

"If we have a process which is flawed, which is vulnerable... it is our duty to try to fix that to make sure it is not being exploited by criminals," he told the BBC, citing current weaknesses. "(The criminals) are very good at what they do. These guys make their living doing this and they will always be testing, probing, trying to find weaknesses that we need to protect against."

Mr Hooper said one option would be to introduce a similar system to that in France, where both vendor and buyer must go to a local registration authority to prove their documentation is correct.

© Press Association 2009