Thieves stealing license plates, then gas
Thieves are employing a new way of beating the rising cost of gas in the Treasure Valley – a practice that may begin spreading to other regions of the state. And, without your knowledge, it could implicate innocent drivers and their vehicles in the process, explains Bryan Smith, ITD’s Emergency Program Manager.
He passed along a story that first appeared on a Boise television station that explains how thieves steal license plates to accomplish their crime:
“Police are investigating some cases where they say suspects stole license plates, drove to local gas stations, filled up their tanks – then drove off without paying. ‘Several cases right now… are pretty significant,’ ” explains Boise Police Crime Prevention Unit officer Curt Crum.
Crum says gas theft and “drive-offs” have always been an issue. But with increasing gas prices, more people are stealing license plates before stealing gas. “It’s not like we have seen a huge spike, but we have a number of cases we are working that do involve stolen license plates,” he said.
Boise officers have seen enough of a spike that they are taking an active step by alerting the public and asking motorists to be specially vigilant. Check your vehicle every time you get in to drive it to make sure both front and back plates are properly displayed.
“How often do people go out and check to see if their license plate is there or check to see that the right plates are on there?” Crum asks. “We have had incidents where they (thieves) put other plates on a vehicle, so the driver may not know.”
Motorists are encouraged to call 911 only if they observe someone in the act of removing their license plates, Smith said. If you notice they have been removed but did not actually witness the theft in progress, report it to your law enforcement agency using its regular business telephone number.