You walk out of your house in the morning and do a quick walk-around of your vehicle. As you glance at the rear of the vehicle, you notice something missing—your license plate. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, don’t panic, and follow these easy steps to get your life quickly restored to normal.
File a Police Report
Before you begin the process to replace your license plate, you must let the police know that your plate has been stolen. This protects you if the person who stole your license plate commits a crime down the road, or simply tries to use it to avoid the ever-increasing number of electronic tolls. You don’t want to be held responsible for someone else’s illegal behavior, and having a police report ensures you will have the evidence to protect yourself. Since you don’t know how soon the thief may end up using your plate, it’s important to file this report as soon as reasonably possible.
Order a Replacement Plate
Once you’ve completed the police report, you’ll need to order a replacement plate as soon as possible. Some places, such as eTags, allow you to order your replacement plate online, to save you a lot of time and frustration. However you are required to order the replacement, though, make sure you make yourself aware of the rules and regulations governing the time until you receive your replacement plates. Check whether you can simply make a sign that says “plate stolen,” or if the DMV will issue you a temporary tag. No matter how you identify that your plate has been stolen, it’s important to try and obtain a copy of the police report to carry around in your glove box, in the event that you are pulled over for not having plates.
Prevent Future Thefts
Ideally, especially if you’ve gone through the inconvenience of replacing a stolen plate, you’ll want to prevent your plate from being stolen again. To prevent theft of your registration sticker, make sure to remove all residue from previous registration stickers, then securely adhere the new sticker to the plate. After that, cross the sticker with a razor blade so that if a thief tries to take the sticker off, all that will come off is a bunch of useless pieces.
When it comes to securing your plate, it’s important to utilize all four screw holes in the license plate. Though it causes a slight inconvenience when you’re replacing your plate, it causes a longer delay for someone trying to steal your plate, making it less likely they’ll have time to succeed. For additional security, you can use specialty security screws that can only be removed using a specialized driver. This ensures that removing your license plate will be nearly impossible without also destroying the plate itself.
No matter what you do when your license plate is stolen, remember to stay calm. Having anything stolen, even as something as impersonal as a license plate, can certainly feel quite violating, but don’t let it affect you to the point that you make mistakes in the process of getting your plates replaced. Just follow the steps listed above, and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring your stolen plates aren’t used against you, and that you get the new plates you need quickly and efficiently.