New Twist On Car Theft: Cloning

It was a bad morning for Geraldo Diaza.

Miami's auto theft task force showed up in his driveway on a tip his Ford Expedition was stolen.

He says he didn't have a clue.

Within minutes, after confirming it was stolen, detectives had it all figured out. As CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta reports, it was a "cloned car."

So how do you clone a car?

Say thieves have stolen a Cadillac Escalade. All they have to do is to spot another one on the street and take down that vehicle's unique identification number, or VIN, then doctor up fake labels and a title on a computer.

Then, they just slap those phony labels on the stolen Escalade, giving it a VIN that appears legal.

When a buyer of a cloned car brings the bogus title to the DMV, police say it's likely new license plates will be issued, no questions asked.

Diaza was driving just one of the more than 200,000 clones out on the roads.

He says he bought it from a friend and doesn't know where his friend got it from.

"I don't know nothing," says Diaza.

Police say unsuspecting owners of cloned cars probably should have been more suspicious of the price. If you think you got that car for a steal you may not know how right you are.

Miami detective Les Cravens says a national auto title database would help stop the car cloners who often cross state lines to cover their tracks.

"A lot of times the person whose VIN has been cloned finds out about it after getting a notice in the mail from a towing company," says Cravens.

  • Jaime Holguin

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