It is not uncommon for us to recover a stolen vehicle and discover that the license plates on it do not match the stolen vehicle in the Department of Licensing (DOL) database or the plates are reported as having been stolen from a different vehicle. Sometimes they are reported as stolen but there are other occasions where the plate owners haven’t reported them as stolen or noticed them missing for that matter.
When a car thief steals a car, they generally know it will be discovered missing shortly thereafter and flagged as stolen by law enforcement. Some car thieves attempt to prolong the inevitable detection by stealing the license plates off of a similar car and putting them on the car they just stole. Sometimes they are smart enough to steal plates off an identical make/model/year as the stolen car but generally that doesn’t usually happen.
If you notice that your license plates are missing or that the ones on your car are not yours and were switched, please call your local non-emergency number to report it to police. Car thieves commonly steal cars to commit crimes such as shoplifting, robberies, burglaries and more.
No one wants their car or license plates associated with a crime. The sooner you detect them missing and report them the better. Know your license plate number and periodically take a quick glance at your vehicle to make sure they are still there and the plates on your vehicle are in fact yours. To report them stolen, we need to know the license plate number to enter them into the database as stolen. If you do not know it the plate number, your insurance company usually will have that information on file with your account.
More information on how to replace your missing or stolen plates can be found at this DOL link https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/lostplates.html