I recently wrote about the risk of your car number plates being stolen and used to steal fuel from garages – a crime that potentially results in you, the registered keeper of the number plates, being accused of the theft. Recent crime figures seem to back me up. The Metropolitan Police in London believe that £500,000 of fuel has been stolen from filling stations in London using this technique in recent months, while in Derbyshire, fuel thefts rose by 23% in the last six months of 2010.
If your number plates are stolen, I would urge you to report the crime to the police, start keeping a record of your car’s movements and consider re-registering your car onto cheap private plates.
However, there is something else you can do. Tamper-proof number plate screws are becoming much more popular. These take various forms but the tamper-proof element usually refers to the fastenings that hold the number plate on – you don’t necessarily need new plates.
One popular technique involves ‘one way’ screws – they can be tightened but not loosened, leaving thieves with no option but to break off number plates – rendering them useless.
In some areas of the country, police are giving out these screws to car owners in high risk areas – but you should be able to find some at your local car accessories shop and they can be found on eBay. They only cost a few quid and take minutes to fit, so are well worth the effort, especially if you live in an area with high levels of car crime.
Merseyside Police, for example, are encouraging the use of tamper-resistant screws and also repeat my advice about reporting number plate theft as soon as it happens:
If your number plate is stolen, it is important that you report it to the police immediately as the sooner we know, the sooner we can act. Also, if you don’t report it and they reappear on a speed camera or a CCTV image of a crime, you will be the one that gets the knock on the door.
Source: Merseyside Police
Remember, the UK’s vehicle licensing system means that the registered keeper of number plates is automatically accused of any offences using those plates – you do need to protect yourself.