License plate thefts lead to unexpected trouble for victims

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 4:47 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Next time you are going for a drive, police suggest you take an extra look before you get in your car to make sure you have both your license plates.

They’re seeing a sudden increase in thefts, with more than 80 reported incidents in Green Bay this year alone.

They’re linked to more serious crimes that police say can lead to victims being blamed for something they didn’t even do.

“Typically early in the year, we were seeing just back plates removed. Now we’re seeing front and back plates removed,” says Green Bay Police Captain Ben Allen.

But it’s where they’re being found that can create the problems.

One place they’re turning up? On some of the more than 100 vehicles reported stolen so far this year in Green Bay.

“People were stealing cars, putting plates on them, hoping someone wouldn’t report their plates stolen, so when we run a plate, it just looks like it may be on the wrong vehicle,” explains Allen.

But that sets up a dangerous situation.

“(It) makes it scary for our guys, because any time they have a stolen vehicle, they’re doing a high risk traffic stop,” says Allen.

It all could end up costing you money, too.

Captain Allen says some of are being used in gas drive-offs, and owners of those stolen plates are being told to pay up for gas they never really stole in the first place.

“Typically our gas stations are turning around and reporting to us that we have a gas drive off through the online reporting. We’re running those things and finding out, hey, this matches up to a stolen plate, so the registered owners are receiving a letter from the gas station saying hey, you forgot to pay for your gas, and they’re like, no, my plate’s been stolen,” says Allen.

Wisconsin law requires drivers have both front and back plates, and Allen says you’ll often need an incident number to get replacements.

You can file a police report quickly and easily online by clicking here.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.