EXCLUSIVE: Industry fights back against mobility vehicle thefts

Steve Perry

A new industry registration initiative described as the ‘DVLA for mobility scooters’ has been launched to combat the prevalence of mobility scooter thefts across the UK.

Resellers, care charities and partners of the popular Shopmobility network are being encouraged to promote the scheme, which seeks to reunite owners with lost vehicles.

Hundreds of mobility scooters are stolen every year in the UK, but until now there has been no formal process for tracking the owner of a vehicle that has been recovered.

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The National Mobility Registration Scheme (NMRC), which has been set up by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) in partnership with Shopmobility and police forces across the country, will serve as a database for vehicle registration in much the same way as the DVLA in Swansea does for cars and motor vehicles.

Steve Perry, marketing and communications director at the BHTA, said: “One of the issues police forces have is that when a mobility product is stolen, how do you actually reunite that product back with the person who owns it? That is one of the reasons for this scheme. The other is that it will hopefully act as a deterrent to theft in the first place.”

The idea for vehicle registration initially came from management of Littlehampton Shopmobility in Sussex, who recognised the personal devastation that mobility theft had when customers came into their store looking for replacement vehicles.

Data gathered from police forces in the UK for 2015 show that at least 517 scooters were stolen during the year, the equivalent of more than 40 a month.

“We genuinely believe that is a low figure as there are only a limited amount of police statistics to go on,” said Mr Perry. “When you look at the value of these thefts, you are talking about a significant amount of money that is being stolen.”

65 of the 517 scooters stolen in 2015 collectively had a value of more than £72,000, according to Mr Perry.

Users will be given their own unique number when they register for the scheme.

Users will be able to register their vehicles on the NMRC website for a cost of £12 a year. They will be able to upload a photo of their scooter, as well as serial numbers, product descriptions and customised features. Payment can be made online. The BHTA said the scheme would also make it easier for users when dealing with insurers.

“When you look at the number of mobility products that are being sold around the UK, by nature there will be people who will steal products, sometimes take them and abandon them, but at the end of the day we want to really try and get those back to the original owners if we can because we realise those people are reliant on that mobility product,” he said. “The fee is equivalent to £1 a month, which we don’t think is excessive for people who have got mobility products worth thousands of pounds.”

Mr Perry told Access & Mobility Professional that all models of scooter can be registered on the database, including those that are categorised as ‘class 3 invalid carriages’ with a road speed of 8 mph, even though these vehicles also have to be registered with the DVLA as a mandatory requirement.”

All Shopmobility fleets have already registered under the NMRC initiative, he said.

Registration can be carried out HERE.

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