Stolen license plates could be helping criminals

Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-24 00:09:41-04

Portsmouth, Va. - There have been five recent reports of license plates, a decal and inspection sticker snatched from cars in Portsmouth.

Police say they believe thieves are using the stolen tags to get away with other crimes.

According to police, the plates and decal were taken off cars parked in area neighborhoods, on Richmond Ave., Peach St., Jefferson St. and Ross Ct. They say the inspection sticker was swiped from a car at a local body shop on High St.

Police say the plates are probably being put on other cars. Cars criminals could be using to burglarize and rob homes or businesses. That's because if surveillance video catches a stolen tag on video, police say, it's difficult to trace back to the "bad guy."

It’s similar for stolen decals and inspection stickers. An expired plate on a car now becomes unexpired and maybe even less suspicious to police.

"It's concerning because you never know when something like that happens. You think maybe that greater things can happen that would be even worse," says Portsmouth resident, Margie D. McCoy.

Last week, McCoy says she reported her 2014 decal missing from her back license plate.

"I just happened to be walking in the driveway one day and I just noticed there was a ‘12’ on my decal.”

She doesn't know how long it's been gone, because she says, it's not something she checks regularly.

But she says it does worry her that criminals with ulterior motives could be the culprits.

“It's hard for these people to be caught. It's hard because people are roaming the street day and night. You just never know what procedures they use to do these types of crimes,” says McCoy.

Portsmouth police aren't sure if the larcenies are related. However, they say since several of the incidents occurred in the same neighborhood, it’s a possibility.

Police say make sure your license plate is properly attached. If not, they say it’s easier for thieves to take it.

If your license plate is stolen, report it to police right away. Police say they send out an instant radio alert to officers to be on the lookout. The tag information is then entered into a nationwide database.