The PLA has helped seize nearly 2,000 stolen or fake military vehicle licence plates and more than 1,200 bogus military vehicles in a crackdown on people masquerading as services personnel, the People's Daily reported. Since the campaign started in August, authorities had smashed 27 criminal gangs involving more than 230 people that stole or counterfeited military vehicles or plates, the newspaper said. More than 360 stolen military plates had been recovered, while 1,258 fake military vehicles and 1,566 fake plates were confiscated. The crackdown was launched in nine provinces and regions - Beijing, Shanghai, Liaoning , Henan , Shaanxi, Sichuan, Shanxi, Guangdong and Guangxi - where rampant counterfeiting of military vehicle plates had been reported, the paper said. It was a co-operative effort involving more than 20,000 People's Liberation Army, Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Communications personnel. Military immunity from paying highway fees has been cited as the main reason behind the fake plates and vehicles. Police are also usually reluctant to pull military cars over for speeding. Annual highway toll losses stemming from the use of fake military plates and vehicles in the southwestern city of Chongqing, which has 750km of highways, amounted to 40 million yuan, the paper said. The PLA was also trying to improve military vehicle management and urging military drivers to obey traffic rules after earlier reports of them ignoring red lights and other traffic restrictions, it said. China's road traffic safety laws state that drivers can be fined from 200 to 2,000 yuan for using counterfeit plates, in addition to having their vehicles confiscated. The criminal law also stipulates that people counterfeiting more than three military plates face prison sentences of up to three years.