Reg­is­tra­tion plate thefts rise in bid to evade cross­ing toll

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY JOSH PARRY

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

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