How serious are insurers about deterring the one form of vehicle theft still rampantly on the rise? Not serious enough, opines Retainagroup, the organisation dedicated to helping people retain the vehicles of which villains would rather relieve them.

It is surely a scandal that cloning remains such as scourge when the practice would be eminently thwartable if more insurers supported the International Security Register (ISR) and gave due credit to the owners of marked and registered vehicles. Here’s what you need to know:

It all begins with etching. “Come up and see my etchings” is an offer no gamine ingénue can apparently resist. But to your average cloning criminal the phrase is anathematical. Etching is precisely the thing such villains most fear.

On buses and trains around the UK, window etching is an increasingly popular pastime, particularly among the younger members of our society (sadly, the standard of their handiwork is often crude, the import of their scrawled impressions scarcely legible). But even this vast army of engravers would surely baulk at the challenge of etching 60 million vehicle windows.

Not so Retainagroup. Upon the transparent vitreous sections of this barely imaginable profusion of motor vehicles, Retainagroup has chemically etched the manufacturer’s logo, a unique seven-digit code and the telephone number of the ISR neatly, visibly and permanently.

Yes, the Retainagroup security marking and registration system has been protecting vehicles against theft for 27 years. It is a highly effective means of both deterring and detecting cloning. The ISR stores details of each etched vehicle, available for verification for the price of a standard phone call by anyone, at any time, either day or night. If the code on a vehicle’s windows doesn’t match the plates and the VIN, then that clone alarm claxon should be sounding full-blast.

Picture the scene: a sun-bleached tar-stained quayside in Dubai. Two human hawks in Ray Bans languidly survey a suspect container with an automotive payload. Suddenly they swoop. The practiced eye of the harbour police has picked out a batch of suspected stolen vehicles.

But how do they check? Interpol has no record of any matching vehicles. Wait – what about the ISR? That’s more like it! A quick call to the ISR confirms the harbour hawks’ hunch. “Without the secondary marking system, these vehicles would not have been recovered and valuable intelligence would have been lost,” they confirm before strolling off for a very interesting chat with the importer’s local agent.

No surprise then that the Retainagroup marking process and the ISR are accredited by the Loss Prevention Council and by Thatcham. The police use the system daily – and if you want to check a suspected clone, you too can call the ISR at any time for an immediate response.

So get behind the ISR, you car insurers, and we’ll soon have the cloners on the run!

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