Shocking news from the land of cream teas, fudge and inappropriately sexualised confectionary-bar-toting lady rabbits: A car-cloning epidemic is sweeping South Devon.

In just the last few months police have recovered cloned vehicles worth £250,000. Mild mannered local lawmen believe criminals send in the clones from outside the Devon and Cornwall force area.

Car cloning, they explain, is achieved by giving the vehicle a false set of number plates, an illegal copy of the V5C document (log book) and a different Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Vehicles ‘bought’ by the ten latest unsuspecting local victims include a VW Touareg worth £20,000 and a top-of-the range Ford Mondeo worth £15,000.

All 10 ‘purchasers’ have lost their money — and the vehicles have been returned to their real owners. PC Mark Humphries warned: “Anyone paying less than 70 per cent of the market price for a vehicle should be on their guard.

“Don’t pay cash,” he told the South Devon Herald Express, “particularly if the car is more than £3,000. Some cloners will take a bankers draft as part payment because the cash part is sufficient profit without ever cashing the bankers draft.”

“Don’t meet sellers in remote locations like car parks or service stations,” he warned. “If in doubt keep hold of your cash.”

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