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Licence plate thefts on the rise: police

Police say they've seen a larger increase in west Niagara
Niagara Regional Police Service file photo

Since late December of 2023, the Niagara Regional Police Service has been seeing an increase in the number of incidents of licence plates being stolen. There have been over 10 incidents with the majority having occurred in West Niagara.

Thieves have targeted vehicles parked in car dealerships and residential driveways. In some cases, the stolen plate is switched with a paper or 3-D printed similar plate. Thieves will target licences plates of the same colour, make, and model vehicle that they will be using to commit other crimes. The similar plates possibly allowing them to stay undetected from law enforcement.   In some cases, the switch has gone undetected for weeks by the registered owners.

Licence plates stolen in Niagara have been tracked to crime investigations in Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area.

Tips to prevent theft of licence plates:

  • Use anti-theft screws: Replace standard screws with anti-theft screws designed to deter thieves. These screws require special tools for removal, making it more difficult for opportunistic thieves to steal your license plates.
  • Park in secure locations: Whenever possible, park your vehicle in well-lit, populated areas with surveillance cameras. Thieves are less likely to target vehicles parked in visible and secure locations.
  • Store old plates securely: If you have old license plates, store them securely in a locked cabinet or safe location. Avoid leaving them in your vehicle where they can be easily accessed by thieves.
  • Check license plates regularly: Periodically check your license plates to ensure they are securely attached to your vehicle. Loose, or bent corners could indicate attempted theft or tampering.
  • Use tamper-proof frames: Consider using license plate frames with tamper-proof features that make it more difficult for thieves to remove the plates without detection. These frames cannot obstruct or obscure the alpha/numeric portion of the plate.
  • Report stolen plates immediately: If your license plates are stolen, report the theft to local law enforcement authorities and your vehicle licensing agency immediately. Prompt reporting can help prevent fraudulent use of your plates.
  • Install security cameras: Install security cameras around your property, including in your driveway or parking area, to deter thieves and capture footage of any attempted thefts.
  • Be vigilant in public areas: When parking in public areas, be mindful of your surroundings and watch for suspicious individuals who may be attempting to steal license plates or vandalize vehicles.

Members of the public who wish to provide crime information anonymously can contact Crime Stoppers of Niagara online or by calling 1-800-222-8477.  Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards to persons who contact the program with information which leads to an arrest.