Bo­gus num­ber plate men­ace

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

AT A TIME when child ab­duc­tions and kid­nap­pings, mur­ders of women and hu­man traf­fick­ing in­ci­dents are on the in­crease, it is dis­heart­en­ing to learn that there is a Volk­swa­gen GTI out there op­er­at­ing with cloned regis­tra­tion num­ber plates.

Not only are that ve­hi­cle’s regis­tra­tion num­bers cloned, but there’s another ve­hi­cle – a VW Polo Vivo sedan – shar­ing the same num­ber plates that has been im­pounded by the po­lice. But even more puz­zling, and of great con­cern, is the fact that the cloned num­bers are of a marked VW Polo be­long­ing to the Joburg metro po­lice de­part­ment.

How brazen can thieves get? Not only are they break­ing the law but they are show­ing com­plete con­tempt for law en­force­ment agen­cies. If that can hap­pen to of­fi­cial, marked ve­hi­cles of those sup­posed to be en­forc­ing the law, what about or­di­nary cit­i­zens?

What is un­set­tling, though, is the fact that often, when news of crim­i­nal in­ci­dents breaks, peo­ple are ad­vised to jot down regis­tra­tion num­bers of ve­hi­cles used by per­pe­tra­tors. That is sup­posed to make it eas­ier for po­lice to track the crim­i­nals, bring them to book and res­cue those they might have kid­napped. But in in­stances where regis­tra­tion num­bers are cloned, not much can be done.

As long as there’s a mar­ket out there, these op­er­a­tions will con­tinue to flour­ish, as crim­i­nal el­e­ments will do what­ever it takes to evade the law.

But while the JMPD ought to be ap­plauded for track­ing down one of the ve­hi­cles that had cloned regis­tra­tion num­bers, the de­part­ment, along with po­lice, needs to deal with the root of this prob­lem: crack down on those man­u­fac­tur­ing these fake num­ber plates and deal harshly with them.

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