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What if you head out to your car in the morning and notice something isn’t quite right with your vehicle? Your license plate has been stolen. What should you do? This type of vehicle-related theft is much more common than most of us would like to realize, and there are some specific car safety steps you must take to receive a replacement plate and report yours stolen before it’s too late.

Why would someone steal a license plate?

Typically, a person steals a license plate to be used on a stolen vehicle to cover up a third crime they intend to commit. If you’re keeping up, that’s a trifecta in one planned event. We have:

  • Your stolen license plate
  • A stolen car
  • A third crime not yet committed

The fact that license plate theft leads to additional crimes is one of the biggest reasons law enforcement cracks down on stolen plates.

How do I report a lost license plate?

If you’ve been the victim of license plate theft, StolenPlates tells us the first thing to do is report it stolen. You can do this by calling 911. Typically, they will transfer you to the correct department. Additionally, do not drive your car without the plate on it. Once you report your stolen tag, an officer should arrive at your location and file a report for you.

The officer can perform a license plate lookup and verify your information. It would be best to have your registration handy to make their license plate search easier. Once the officer has written the report of a stolen plate, ask for a copy or at least the report number. You will need this when driving around without a license plate.

When should a stolen plate be reported to the DMV?

You should do this as soon as possible. Some Department of Motor Vehicle locations will issue a temporary plate while creating a new one for you. Other DMVs will hand you a new license plate right away. However, if you have personalized plates on your vehicle, you’ll have to wait a few days for yours to be created and mailed to your home address.

Can someone find your address from your license plate?

No, the personal address isn’t searchable by the general public with a license plate number. However, many plates do have the county or region where a car is registered.

Can you use the front plate as a replacement in states that require front and back plates?

No, once one of your license plates is reported stolen, they are both considered stolen. These plates have the same number on them. The only exception is for Canadians in America. They will have to drive home with one plate. Canadians will likely be stopped at the border, which is why you need the police report.

How do you prevent license plate theft?

Many of us don’t think to do this, but a set of security screws can stop crooks from taking your plates off your vehicle. Most cars only come with a pair of screws with either a slotted or Philips’s head. If you install security screws that require a special tool to remove them, you’ll stop most thieves that might be interested in stealing the places off of your car.