The theft of car number plates has been on the rise, with thousands of them being stolen each year. These registration plates are then used to commit further serious offences, including:
Kidnapping and burglaries: Criminals tend to steal a registration plate first before committing other crimes that require a car. This way, even if witnesses provide a plate, it won’t connect to the crime.
Drug trafficking: Criminals may steal prestigious plates to look less suspicious to authorities and conceal their criminal acts
Petrol drive-offs: Most petrol stations are now fitted with CCTV cameras to reduce petrol theft. So, if someone steals your plates, you may find the police at your door asking why you didn’t pay.
Evading speeding and parking fines: Criminals blaze past speed cameras, leaving you responsible for the resulting speeding ticket. The same holds true for illegal parking
Disguising stolen vehicles: Car thieves often steal a plate from a car that resembles the stolen one, so the license matches the description and remain undetected as stolen until the owner files a police report.
Thieves are very clever nowadays, targeting registration plates based on the colour and model of the car they will be using, which makes it even more difficult to prove that you are not the one who committed the crime. Fortunately, it only takes a few simple steps to prevent serious crimes and save yourself the hassle of getting new number plates.
1. Secure your number plates with one-way, anti-theft screws.
One-way, anti-theft screws are easily installed using a standard screwdriver, but you cannot remove them unless you use a special tool. These screws are readily available in most hardware stores, but in the event that you cannot find some, you can use pop rivets and secure surrounds as alternative fasteners.
2. Park in a secure and well-lit area.
Police reports suggest that most registration plate thefts occur when cars are parked in residential areas or on a lane or street. It is important that you park your car where it will be difficult for thieves to access it. This could be a locked garage, off the street in your driveway, or in a well-lit area where other people can detect unusual or suspicious activity.
To reduce the chances of becoming a registration plate theft victim, you should also park in well-populated areas, keep the back end of your vehicle next to diving lanes (don’t pull through or back in when parking), and check your registration plate often to ensure that it is still there.
In the unfortunate event that your car number plate is stolen, make sure that you report the theft to local police immediately, as this can help police to recognise stolen car number plates and identify offenders. While car number plate theft may seem like a minor offence, it’s important to remember that your stolen plates may be used later as part of more serious criminal activity.
In addition to reporting your stolen plates, you should get new plates made up. This means proving that you are entitled to use that registration number. You will need proof of identity, like your driver’s license and your V5 log book.