Calgary police have charged two men in connection to vehicle cloning.

That's when thieves use the vehicle identification number (VIN) from another province and match it to a similar-model stolen vehicle.

The culprits then get the vehicle inspected, forge a bill of sale and have it registered fraudulently. The re-vinned — or cloned — vehicle then has a new identity and can easily be sold, police say. 

The most recent case involves two stolen vehicles originally from B.C. that were later purchased in Alberta. Two Alberta men have been charged with possession of stolen property.

Calgary police recovered almost 50 vehicles in 2012 that had been re-vinned.

Consumers should be on the look-out for tell-tale signs that a vehicle for sale has been cloned, police said:

  • Ask a seller for government-issued personal identification.
  • Do a Carproof or Carfax check on the vehicle. If it was registered in another province or country, ask more questions.
  • Compare the public VIN on the lower left dashboard to the federal certification label on the driver’s door frame. The VIN should match and the decal should not show signs of peeling.
  • Take the vehicle to a dealership to have it checked.
  • Check the VIN on www.cpic-cipc.ca to see if the vehicle is listed as stolen.