It’s a crime that you could be a victim of and not know it for days.
An increasing trend of license plate thefts can be seen across the state of Illinois, according to records obtained by NBC 5 Responds.
Some drivers came forward after they said they were issued fines for crimes they did not commit (To learn more, click here.)
To find out if the crime is happening in your neighborhood, use the tool below by searching your zip code.
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The tool is based on data provided by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and represents drivers who have informed the state since 2019 that their license plate was stolen.
If your license plates are stolen, here are some things we learned that you should do:
- Immediately call the police and file a report on the theft. Do not drive your car until you’ve reported the license plate theft to law enforcement. Oftentimes, police departments will not take reports of theft over the phone, so you will likely need to go in-person to a precinct or police department location, or have an officer come to you. This step is crucial in ensuring you’re not responsible for any future violations or crimes tied to your stolen license plate. Make sure to receive a copy of the report.
- Check that your stolen license plate has been added to the LEAD system. This should happen automatically once you file a police report for a stolen license plate but it doesn’t hurt to check with the officer. Your license plate theft will be added to the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS), which is tied to the National Crime Information Center - a database used by law enforcement nationwide. That way if your plate is used in a crime in another state, it is logged as being stolen.
- Notify your state’s motor vehicle department. File a ‘license plate revocation’ form with the Illinois Secretary of State or your state’s motor vehicle department. This notifies the state on record that your plate was stolen, and is the first step towards obtaining a temporary tag or new license plate and number for your vehicle. In filing these forms, you will likely need to include a police report documenting the theft, depending on your state’s requirements.
- Consider license plate locks or anti-theft screws for the future. License plate security screws are an inexpensive way to fasten your plate to your car, and keep thieves from removing it. The kits include a specifically designed security wrench for removing the screws, for you to keep inside your home for future use.