It’s one of the most visible parts of a car, the number plate is both personal as well as making for easy pickings for thieves. The research done by the RAC found that on average, 56 number plates are nicked each day in England and Wales!
In 2014, there was a total of around 20,717 cases of licence plate theft. This might seem like a lot, but it’s actually down from 23,667 back in 2010 according to the RAC. These figures came from the results of 34 police forces after he RAC got in touch asking for the information through the Freedom of Information Act. But what exactly are the thieves doing with the number plates once they have them?
Further research into what is going on has found that the number plates have been fixed to other cars with similar attributes i.e. The same model and make. This is in order to make stolen cars seem like the real deal. As a result, drivers of these illegally registered cars are harder to get caught for offences like driving out of petrol stations without paying. They are also harder to trace when these vehicles are involved in road traffic accidents.
The grand total of thefts have fallen in general, this is the good news. However, several of the police forces involved have said that the problem has actually escalated. West Midlands Police were among the forces to report an increase, they experienced a 38% increase, next was Derbyshire with 34%, North Yorkshire came in third with 18% and South Yorkshire noting a 13% rise.
But there have been decreases too. Warwickshire found that their force managed an 80% cut in this crime. Cheshire saw decreases of 55%, Surrey cut crime rates by half and Thames Valley Police force also saw a 46% drop in car crime rates.
Number Plate Theft is Big Business
The research also threw some light onto the situations in which encourage the thefts. The RAC found that number plate thefts do not happen alone. The plate will likely be stolen along with the car as well as home burglary. The theft of this part of a vehicle will, in most cases, be linked with other criminal activity. Police forces are aware that this could be considered as a symptom to a wider problem.
Reducing the likelihood of being a victim will be on the mind’s of nearly all car owners. There are ways to help protect your vehicle, whether your car is brand new or has a few miles on the clock. Want Driving Lessons suggest investing in tamper-resistant number plates and fittings. These are available from places like Halfords. Also, park your car or van in as well lit a place as possible. This might not stop the theft, but it has been found to deter the thieves from carrying out the crime.
However, as a nation, we seem to be getting more safety concious. A spokes person from the National Police Chief’s Council is quoted as saying: “The levels of vehicle crime, including theft from motor vehicles, have fallen by nearly three quarters since 1997.”