Vehicle theft down 12%

Article date: 30 October 2008

The latest Home Office statistics reveal that vehicle related thefts fell by 12% in the year to June 2008. However, HPI is warning used car buyers to remain vigilant, as criminals turn to ever more sophisticated ways to con individuals out of their money. Car crime covers more than just theft and HPI offers advice on the latest tricks to avoid becoming a victim of a dodgy seller.

"Although it's encouraging to see that vehicle related thefts are down by 12%, HPI Checks still reveal around 30 stolen vehicles a day and many of those may be sold on to unsuspecting buyers looking for a bargain," explains Nick Lindsay, director of HPI. "In the current climate, whilst theft might not be as big a problem as in the past, fraud is still a major issue.

"Outstanding finance is the biggest threat facing used car buyers, with 24 out of every 100 cars checked by HPI still subject to a finance agreement, and this figure is likely to increase as we head towards recession and people find they need to get hold of cash quickly. Many people may not realise that if they buy a car still on finance, they stand to lose both their money and the vehicle, which still belongs to the finance house."

Whilst theft of vehicles may be decreasing, criminals are finding ever more ingenious and sophisticated methods of defrauding unsuspecting buyers, and the cloning of vehicles (applying a vehicle identity to another vehicle so that two identical vehicles end up on the road) leads this charge. Buyers should be wary of missing number plates, incomplete vehicle documentation (V5, MOT and service history), and a substantially discounted price point. Buyers looking for advice on how to avoid buying a clone can check out the advice on the HPI website, and invest in an HPI Check which includes as standard a unique V5 document check, and Guarantee cover to protect against buying a clone.

Clocking is another major risk for used car buyers, with seven out of 100 checks against the HPI National Mileage Register showing mileage discrepancies. A clocked car will have had its mileage lowered, increasing its value to unsuspecting buyers. However, a vehicle with a dodgy mileage reading could be hiding wear and tear, leading to expensive mechanics bills or could even be dangerous.

"The HPI Check offers used car buyers the peace of mind that their potential dream machine doesn't turn out to be a nightmare on wheels," concludes Lindsay. "Used car criminals are frequently turning to more and more ingenious ways to pull the wool of over the eye of unsuspecting consumers. Vehicle theft may be down, but fraud continues to be a big threat, and HPI's Guarantee is the only one to include a V5 document check as well as offering protection against the increasing risk of purchasing a cloned vehicle. HPI's vast database of information offers buyers instant verification of a vehicle's status, closing the net on the criminals."

HPI Checks are available at from just £19.99. With more vehicle information than anybody else, HPI provides instant confirmation as to whether a vehicle has been stolen, written-off, clocked, or has outstanding finance.

To conduct an HPI Check: log on to, or call the dedicated number 01722 422 422.


For press enquiries please contact:
Margot Tomkinson, Dominic Dennis and Justine Hoadley at HSL 0208 977 9132.

Notes to editors:

About HPI
Originally established in 1938, HPI Limited is a primary source of vehicle information for the UK motor industry and motoring consumer, which since August 2004 has been owned by Norwich Union. HPI encompasses both the HPI database of all UK road registered vehicle descriptions and histories, and the National Mileage Register which holds in excess of 125 million mileage readings.

Together, HPI and NMR represent the UK's largest vehicle information source, combining and interpreting data from government agencies, industry bodies, private organisations, the police and the general public. Registering with HPI helps companies to protect their financial interests in motor vehicles and a wide range of other mobile assets. HPI Checks give purchasers instant confirmation of whether vehicles are correctly described, known to be subject to outstanding finance or serious accident damage, or recorded as stolen or "clocked".

'HPI' and the HPI logo are registered trademarks of HPI Limited. 

(1) All prices include VAT and are correct as of 1 January 2006
(2) Mileage Data is not covered by The HPI Guarantee
(3) The HPI Guarantee is subject to terms and conditions

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