Have you checked your vehicle's license plates, lately? Between January and May of 2022, Bothell Police recovered or investigated the theft of at least 40 vehicle license plates.
“When we pull over vehicles with no plates, the drivers are often very surprised when we tell them the plates are gone,” said Bothell Police Captain Kendall Smith. “Their license plates have been stolen. Many times, drivers have no idea when the plates may have been stolen, or how many days or weeks they’ve been driving around with no plates.”
Car thieves often steal or swap license plates, hoping the license plate owners won't notice or report the theft for a long time. That makes it easier for them to drive around, undetected, in stolen vehicles.
That's why car owners should make a habit of regularly checking their license plates.
Washington state law requires license plates to be displayed at the front and rear of each vehicle, when two license plates have been issued.
If one or both of your license plates have been stolen, it’s important to report the theft to your local police department.
Contact the Washington State Department of Licensing to replace your stolen license plates. Stolen plates cannot be reissued with the same license plate number. The WSDOL form can be found here.
Effective Theft Prevention is Easy, Inexpensive
For very little cost, effort and know-how, most vehicle owners can minimize the risk of license-plate theft. License-plate thieves move quietly and quickly, rarely bothering with specialty (security) screws, bolts or anti-theft plate brackets. These items are available at most auto parts stores and online, designed for the vehicle owner to install on their own.
In most cases, simply replacing Phillips-head or flat-head screws will be enough to prevent license plate theft.
See Something, Say Something
You can also help prevent license plate theft and other crimes by calling 911 immediately if you see suspicious activity.