A motorist has escaped a fine and points on his licence after a device proved that the hire car he was driving was not in Lincoln, but in north London.
The driver was accused of speeding in Lincoln in November 2015 even though the vehicle thought to be involved, a BMW 2 Series, was actually still in Wembley.
Lincolnshire Police issued a fine of £100 and three penalty points when the vehicle was caught by a fixed speed camera in Lincoln travelling at 35 mph on a 30 mph stretch of road.
However, the hire car was equipped with a special telematics device which gave proof that the vehicle was was nearly 150 miles away at the time of the alleged offence.
It also transpired during the court case that a member of staff in Lincolnshire mis-read the number plate captured by the speed camera.
Despite this, the vehicle colour and model matched, so not further checks were carried out.
Investigative work by anti-motor fraud specialists Asset Protection Unit (APU) proved the driver’s innocence, and the charges were dropped.
The driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:
“I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I first opened the letter saying I’d been caught speeding in a city I hadn’t even visited for years.
“At first you question yourself but ultimately I knew I hadn’t been to Lincoln, and certainly not to break the speed limit.
“When I found out the hire car had telematics, APU just swung into action really, so it’s good to know it’s been resolved. It’s a shame to know that car cloning is still common, though.”
Neil Thomas, director of investigative services at APU, said, “It’s very satisfying to help out innocent motorists of course, but the real worry here is that it’s almost certain the vehicle in question has been cloned.
“We’ve seen a number of similar cases surface recently and the worry is that cloning could be back on the rise again.
“It’s usually linked to large-scale organised crime, and it’s hard to stamp out because the clone is registered to the innocent owner’s address so you have to catch the crooks out on the road.
“However, we believe criminals are increasingly using cloned cars so that innocent drivers shoulder the blame for their inexcusable driving.”
The real speeding offender was not prosecuted as the two week prosecution deadline had expired before the error was flagged.