CAR-OWNERS who falsely report their vehicle as stolen are being targeted by North Kent Police.

Detectives on the area's Igneous Team, which aims to clamp down on car crime, say they can reliably distinguish bogus reports from legitimate claims.

As a result, they are warning owners they will be prosecuted when unmasked.

The case of a Gravesend man, who falsely claimed his £15,000 Volkswagen Golf had been taken, is currently before the courts.

When police recovered the car and checked security systems, they suspected he had faked the theft.

He later admitted it in interview.

This is just one of the growing number of cases of fraudulent reporting in north Kent.

DC Dave Godden, of the Igneous Team, said: “There are many reasons why someone might falsely report their vehicle stolen.

“Perhaps they crashed their car while drinking and want to cover up the fact.

“Everyone else suffers when people make false claims.

“We are all aware of the effect this ultimately has on insurance premiums.”

Paul Jacquemin, director of Parrock Insurance Brokers, Windmill Street, Gravesend, said: “This is an issue we deal with on a daily basis and obviously loss through fraud is built into people's premiums.

“Thanks to new technology, companies are able to exchange data as well as work closely with the police.”

A government bill giving police powers to check insurance company's records could soon become law.