Vehicle Identification and Vehicle Identity Theft and Misuse in Victoria: Stage 3: Measuring the Prevalence and Consequences of Vehicle Identity Theft and Strategies for Vehicle Identity Theft Mitigation

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned Report


This study is part of a multi-stage investigation aimed at understanding the prevalence and impact of vehicle number plate theft and misuse in Victoria, and reducing its future impact on the community. The investigation stems from elements of the Victorian Government Community Safety Statement 2017. This aims of this study were:
1. To estimate the prevalence of vehicle identity theft and misuse in Victoria;
2. To estimate impact of vehicle identity theft on the community related to crime, safety and other costs, and
3. To provide recommendations based on the findings of this study and those of a parallel study on countermeasure technologies conducted by La Trobe University.

Data was sourced from a number of government agencies including VicRoads, Victoria Police, Department of Justice and Community Safety, and the Crime Statistics Agency. Analysis of the available evidence suggest that number plate fraud is a significant and growing issue in terms of both prevalence and impact on the crime, safety and other costs to the community. The majority of available data was related specifically to number plate theft, which was found to be more common amongst general issue type number plates (less common for custom plates), and more common for particular popular vehicle models, years of manufacture and geographical areas after adjusting for their prevalence in the registered vehicle fleet. Number plate theft was also found to be associated with a variety of crime types and categories, with moderate severity ranked crimes most commonly associated with number plate theft. However this investigation also highlighted large gaps in understanding of the precise magnitude and trends in number plate theft and misuse, due to a lack of specific recording and monitoring, particularly for different types of vehicle ID fraud such as cloning. While it was possible to make some estimates on the prevalence of unreported number plate fraud including those other than number plate theft, confidence with these estimations was low. Existing data systems suitable for monitoring are not specifically designed to measure and report statistics on key types of number plate fraud. Analysis was also limited by a reluctance on the part of some agencies holding key data to share potentially valuable information they held in relation to vehicle identity fraud. Key recommendations stemming from the project were:

1. To improve monitoring of vehicle ID fraud through the development of a centrally based system (with a nationally-based system achieving the greatest benefits):
2. To further trial a vehicle secondary identifier RFID system and third number plate mounted inside the vehicle using a subset of number plates based on the findings of the parallel La Trobe study,
3. To develop a system which enables a two way live link between enforcement and the central monitoring system, and
4. To introduce an incentive scheme to improve the return of expired number plates.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne Vic Australia
Commissioning bodyRoads Corporation (trading as VicRoads) (Victoria)
Number of pages89
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Vehicle identity theft
  • Number plate
  • Vehicle identifier
  • Crime
  • Safety application

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