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How To Protect Your Licence Plates

August 27, 2012

Protect your plates

Licence plate theft up by 47 per cent

Article written by Matt Dykstra, Edmonton Examiner, Aug. 15, 2012

City cops are asking motorists to protect their plates after licence plate thefts jumped by 47 per cent in Edmonton this year.

There have been 237 licence plate thefts in July alone, say cops, compared to 158 at the same time last year.

Community Liason Sgt. Dean Dukart told reporters the theft are a city-wide problem Edmontonians need to be aware of. “It’s happening all the time,” says Dukert. “It’s happening everywhere. I can’t identify an actual hotspot for people to be more careful because it’s just all over the place.”

Thieves often swipe licence plates to place them on stolen vehicles, effectively hiding their crime for a longer period of time, said Dukart.

Other thieves use stolen plates when they commit more sophisticated crimes – like armed robbery – Dukart said.

While the crime itself is difficult to police, motorists can take preventative measures to deter would-be plate pirates.

The best ways are to switch the commonly provided screws for bolts with a different shaped head, or place different combinations of bolts on either side of the plate.

Licence plate thieves typically don’t carry a full tool box, said Dukart, and will likely be unsuccessful in the theft or avoid your vehicle altogether if the plate has security bolts.

 Do you realize that you and your family will be at serious risk if your licence plate gets taken to be used on a stolen vehicle or is involved with other criminal activity?

Installing a licence plate is simple. Unfortunately, that means it can be removed just as easily. Be aware of the dangers associated with a stolen licence plate!

Licence plate security is an issue for anyone. The very least, you will be inconvenienced. Worst case scenario, you could be a suspect in a major crime that you never committed.

Thefts from vehicles are common crimes of opportunity that happen fast and at any time. According to Edmonton Police Service, each year in Edmonton 3,000 to 4,000 licence plates are stolen.

Why would someone steal a licence plate?

  • Acts of Nuisance – Sometimes the cause for a stolen licence plate is simply someone trying to cause trouble. It could be a dare amongst students. They may be stealing random plates just to be a nuisance.
  • Disguising a Stolen Car – The culprit is trying to make a stolen vehicle look legimate. Criminals may steal a car and then steal a licence plate from a vehicle that resembles the stolen one. This way the licence plate will match the vehicle description. The car will go undetected as stolen until the owner realizes their plate has been stolen and files a report to police.
  • Committing other Crimes – If a thief is looking to commit crimes that require a car, they sometimes steal a licence plate first. If a witness to the crime provides police with a licence plate number, it won’t connect the criminals to the crime.
  • Gas and Dash – Thieves realize that almost every gas station is fitted with CCTV cameras to minimize fuel theft. Using a stolen licence plate on their vehicle won’t tie them to the crime after a drive-off.
  • Armed Robbery or Kidnapping – These serious criminal offences often involve a stolen licence plate to avoid detection.
  • Avoiding Traffic Violation Charges – If a criminal is driving around with your licence plate on their car, they can storm past photo radars with the speeding ticket going to you. If they run red lights or violate parking restrictions, fines will be mailed to you as the registered owner of the licence plate.

How to decrease your chance of having your licence plate stolen

  1. Use anti-theft licence plate screws – Anti-theft licence plate screws are designed to allow anyone to use a screwdriver to put the plates on with the screws, but require a specialized tool – only available to police and authorized partners – to remove the licence plate screws. The plate screws are free at all EPS Divisional stations (information  taken from www.edmontonpolice.ca). Phone ahead to find out if they are in stock.
  2. Park in well-lit areas.
  3. Park in well-populated areas.
  4. Keep the rear of your vehicle adjacent to driving lanes. Don’t back in or pull through parking spots.
  5. Check your licence plate regularly.

If you don’t have a security system or don’t have it monitored, call me for a free, no-obligation consultation. You will be glad you did!

Ulli Robson, Security Specialist, (780) 288-2986.

www.SafewithUlli.com

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