Registration plate thefts rise in bid to evade crossing toll
THERE are fears that number plates are being stolen to avoid tolls on the soonto-be-opened Mersey Gateway bridge.
The £1.75bn bridge, due to open in October, will use hightech cameras which read car registration numbers in order to toll drivers who cross the bridge between Runcorn and Widnes.
Customers also have the option of registering for a sticker containing a microchip which holds their details so the bridge operators can identify their car.
However, motorists have reported thefts of registration plate in the Widnes and Runcorn area which are feared to be by fraudsters trying to dodge paying tolls.
One woman, who did not wish to be named, said her son-inlaw’s plates had recently been stolen.
She added: “When he went to get them replaced he was told that lots of people had been coming in for the same reason. Everyone reckons it’s to do with the bridge tolls.”
A Merseyflow spokesperson said they’d be ‘working closely with police to clamp down on fraud and misuse of the system’ and urged motorists to contact police ‘as soon as possible’ if they fall victim to the potential scam.
They said: “Anyone stealing licence plates to use on their own vehicle is breaking the law. We will work closely with police to clamp down on fraud and misuse of the system.
“If you believe your licence plate has been stolen please contact the police as soon as possible to report the crime.
“The Merseyflow system uses dual technology to identify vehicles travelling across the bridge.
“People who register a vehicle are given a Merseyflow sticker to place in their windscreen. This ● sticker contains a microchip that is read by the gantry, along with the vehicle’s number plate.
“The vehicle with the stolen number plates would not have the sticker and therefore would show as a discrepancy on the system.”
They also explained there would be a procedure in place to ensure anyone incorrectly charged will be refunded.
They added: “If people believe they have been incorrectly tolled they can appeal their penalty charge notice.
“As the penalty charge notice is a legal document, any challenge must be made in writing, following the instructions listed on the back of the letter.
“If you want to challenge a PCN we recommend you do so immediately as this will suspend the penalty charge level and time period until a decision is reached on your challenge.
“If your challenge is denied the penalty charge level and time period will be resumed.”
Cheshire police confirmed there had been a several plate thefts over the past month in Widnes and Runcorn.
ANPR cameras mounted to gantries over the Mersey Gateway will read registration plates of vehicles using the bridge crossing