What to Do If Your License Plate is Stolen

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Walking out to your car to notice that your license plates are missing is not an enjoyable experience. 

In some areas, stolen license plates are becoming more and more common. 

We’ll go over the steps you’ll need to take to get your plates back and how to protect yourself from license plate theft in the future. 

Why do people steal license plates? 

There are a number of reasons people will steal a license plate. 

Some of the common reasons include:

  • Driving a stolen vehicle. 
  • Not having valid registration, plates, or insurance themselves. 
  • To avoid parking tickets tied to their own vehicle. 
  • Having a suspended license. 

Oftentimes, thieves will try to steal plates off of a similar looking vehicle. 

What to Do if Your License Plates are Stolen

If your license plates have been stolen, you’ll want to act fast to remedy the situation. 

Here’s what to do if someone stole your license plates:

  • File a police report with your local police department. 
  • Visit your local DMV office, submit your application by mail, or go online to the official DMV website. 
  • Complete a replacement plate application. 
  • Surrender the second plate to the DMV, if you still have it. 
  • Pay the replacement plate fee. 

Lost or stolen plates will require the DMV to issue you a new license plate number. 

But remember, you’ll first need to file a police report. This will alert the local authorities to be on the lookout for the stolen plate and protect you from being wrongfully accused of any crimes committed while your plate was being used. 

In many states, you’ll be able to replace stolen plates in person, by mail, or online. 

Be prepared to provide:

  • Proof of your identity. 
  • Your registration and vehicle details, along with proof of ownership. 
  • A copy of the police report you filed. 

How to Prevent License Plate Theft

There are a few things you can do to prevent license plate theft. 

First, you should try to park your vehicle in areas where it would be difficult to steal your plates in the first place. 

This could include inside a secured garage, in a highly visible or well-lit area, or a place with security cameras. 

Next, you can swap out your normal license plate screws for security screws. 

Security screws make it difficult to remove the plates quickly, and spending too much time on the task will deter most would-be license plate thieves.