In Texas, law enforcement is intensifying efforts to combat the growing issue of fake temporary paper tags. However, an unintended consequence has emerged, with an uptick in license plate thefts. Although the exact statistics are unknown, as the TxDMV doesn’t track license plate thefts, records reveal a surge in the issuance of replacement license plates since 2020.
License Plate Theft: Motivations & Challenges
License plate theft happens for a number of reasons. Some individuals are unable to acquire a license plate through legal means because they lack car insurance or have a suspended driver’s license. However, the primary motive behind license plate theft is often to hide the identity of the vehicle the stolen plate will be attached to. Car thieves may replace the plates on a stolen vehicle with those from a similar, legally registered vehicle to evade detection and identification.
Other perpetrators may have committed a crime or are planning one and want to avoid being traced back to it. This was the case in a recent robbery and murder of a Vietnamese restaurant owner in Arlington, Texas. The suspect switched the plates on his rental car, registered in Louisiana, with those from an identical vehicle registered in Texas, attempting to hide any connection to his crimes.
Identifying stolen license plates on vehicles is a challenge for law enforcement agencies. The reason being that a majority of license plate thieves swap out plates with those from a similar type of vehicle. For instance, if the perpetrator is driving a silver Toyota SUV, they will steal plates from another silver Toyota SUV. When police officers conduct plate checks during traffic patrols, their verification is limited to confirming whether the plate corresponds to the type of vehicle it is attached to. The only way for them to identify a stolen plate is to pull the vehicle over and check that the vehicle identification number (VIN) matches what’s on the vehicle.
How We Can Reduce License Plate Thefts
On July 1, 2025, a new law in Texas will go into effect that eliminates temporary paper license plates and replaces them with aluminum plates. This initiative aims to combat crime by making it harder for criminals to obtain fraudulent tags, which are often “used to turn vehicles into virtually untraceable ‘ghost cars'” for the purpose of carrying out illicit activities. Despite this measure, there is a concern that criminals may resort to stealing license plates from other vehicles. To address and curb the number of license plate thefts, there are proactive steps that both individuals and businesses can take.
To avoid having your plates stolen, it is recommended to invest in an anti-theft license plate frame. The non-standard screws on these frames are difficult to remove quickly, which discourages thieves from targeting your vehicle. Furthermore, you should memorize your license plate number and establish a habit of regularly inspecting your plates to make sure they have not been swapped out.
If you discover that your plates have been stolen, report it to the police immediately and request new ones. Reporting the theft ensures that you will not be held responsible for the actions the perpetrator has been doing with your stolen plates or the plates they replaced yours with. Unbeknownst to you, the individual may have racked up hundreds of dollars in parking fines, tolls, or worse, committed a serious crime.
License Plate Recognition (LPR)
If you’re a business owner or manager, incorporating license plate recognition (LPR) technology into your parking lots can mitigate the risk of license plate theft for you, your employees, and visitors. Law enforcement agencies keep a database of stolen vehicles and license plates, which can be integrated with LPR systems. The system can be configured to generate alerts when a stolen plate is detected on the premises, allowing you to contact the authorities. This proactive approach helps law enforcement in tracking down and apprehending criminals, ultimately enhancing overall safety for your business and clients.
LPR technology can also be used to prevent instances of license plate theft before they occur. As previously mentioned, thieves typically steal plates from vehicles similar to their own. Using an LPR system allows you to monitor the timing of vehicles entering or exiting the area. If a vehicle spends an unusually long time in the parking lot, it may indicate a potential threat as the driver could be scouting the area for a target. The system can identify these suspicious vehicles, triggering alerts that prompt your staff to monitor their movements closely.
LPR Solutions from PLACA.AI
License plate theft might become an increasing problem over the next few years, but we can mitigate the risks by staying aware and utilizing LPR technology. The proactive features of LPR, from identifying stolen plates to detecting suspicious activities, can play a significant role in crime prevention. If you are needing to strengthen your security measures, subscribing to PLACA.AI, our cloud-based LPR service, can help you stay one step ahead. With PLACA.AI, you can leverage the full potential of license plate recognition to safeguard your premises and the assets of your visitors effectively. Subscribe to PLACA.AI today by contacting the 2M Technology sales team at +1 (866) 708-5401 or at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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