Deputies warn of license plate and registration decal thefts

The Pasco Sheriff's Office is again warning drivers of an increase in license tag and registration decal thefts.

With 284 cases filed so far this year, the sheriff's office is on pace to double the amount worked in 2014—a whopping 552 cases.

Nearly 600 cases were filed in 2013; 451 were filed in 2012 and 363 were filed in 2011.

"This is not something new. It has been going on for years," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said. "For those individuals that are the victims of this crime, it is a real pain in the butt for them."

Decals can be easily and quickly stolen if they are stuck on top of existing ones.

Sheriff Nocco said license tags are often stolen by criminals trying to evade detection.

"If you're involved in a couple crimes- if you're involved in different crimes, you're going to take that tag and put it on another vehicle- possibly a stolen vehicle," Sheriff Nocco said.

Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano thinks the number of stolen tags and decals may be much higher than the official statistics from the sheriff's office because drivers may not report when their decals go missing.

"If someone believes that their decal has been stolen, they should definitely go to the sheriff's office or to the city police office and file that complaint," Fasano said.

The tax collector's office can then replace the decal or tag at no charge.

The sheriff's office listed the following suggestions to prevent tags or decals from being stolen:

Tips to prevent license plates from being stolen:

  1. Consider installing anti-theft license plate screws. These screws can be purchased online or in most home improvement stores. They require a special wrench to remove, which is not readily available to would-be thieves.
  2. Purchase a locking license plate frame.
  3. Limit access to license plate by: Parking vehicle in a secured garage, Backing vehicle up to home or other structure.
  4. Install home motion sensor and light near where you park your vehicle to remove the cover of darkness from would-be thieves.
  5. When parking in public areas, consider parking in well-lit areas with high traffic and visibility.

Tips to prevent theft of registration decal from license plate

  1. Proper installation of the registration decal hinders theft. Thoroughly remove old stickers prior to installing new one. Clean license plate with rubbing alcohol or cleaning solvent. Allow area to dry thoroughly. Apply new sticker directly to the clean license plate.
  2. You can deter someone from stealing the registration sticker on your license plate by cross cutting it with a razor blade. If a thief tries to pull it off, it will only come off in pieces, rendering it useless.