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Car owners warn thieves are after this car part

Posted: 12:29 PM, Oct 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-13 13:59:22-05

City car owners are having to come up with ways to protect their property after reports of license plates being stolen.

Earlier this month, a man was seen on-camera attempting to steal someone’s plate but was spotted by a neighbor.

Allison Lang wasn’t as lucky.

“Came home from work one day, noticed my license plate cover was sitting on the planter outside my house,” said Lang.

Her back license plate was gone.

“The most annoying thing was having to take the time off work, drive to the MVA, hope I didn't get pulled over in the meantime, just to get a new set of tags,” said Lang.

It's an unusual crime but not uncommon. Frank Scafidi with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) said thieves target cars that are similar in make and model to the stolen vehicle they're trying to disguise.

“It's not the most sophisticated way to hide a stolen vehicle, but we got all levels of thieves out there in the country and the dumber they are, the easier it is for us to catch them,” Scafidi said.

In another case, the thief not only took a Federal Hill man’s plate, but replaced it with a tag from a stolen car.

“Spot-check your car every once in a while. It doesn't hurt just to be vigilant about anything,” said Lang.

Lang put bolts on her tires and locks on her license plate. And because her car is manual, she's hopeful that's a good enough deterrent.

“I don't think there's much left to lockdown on this car,” Lang said.

License plate fasteners cost anywhere from $2 to $10 and come with a special tool to remove the bolts. 

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii  contacted the Baltimore Police Department and Maryland Department of Transportation to request data on the number of license plates reported stolen. The Baltimore Police Department said they classify the crime as a larceny and are unable to breakout statistics. The MDOT deferred to police, saying they "are the custodians" of the information.

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