POLICE in Western Area are looking to smash the problem of number plate theft.
In the past fortnight there have been more than 15 thefts of vehicle registration plates across the area prompting a call for vigilance.
In some cases the plates have been recovered, but many are still unaccounted for and could be used in other crimes.
Detective Chief Inspector Brian Roberts, crime manager for Cheshire Police’s Western Area, said: “The majority of number plate thefts are carried out to allow criminals to mask the identity of vehicles they plan to use in other crimes.
“This can range from drive offs, where people take petrol without paying for it, to more serious offences such as robbery.
“As with any form of vehicle crime we take the theft of registration plates extremely seriously and are reviewing forensic evidence from many cases in a bid to identify offenders and determine possible links to other offences.”
Meanwhile Chief Insp Roberts is asking all motorists to consider how secure the identity of their vehicle really is.
He added: “Registration plates are, by their design, not particularly secure as they are permanently on show and are often attached by standard screws.
“But there are steps that can be taken to make your registration plates more difficult to steal.
“Many specialist auto shops now stock screws that can only be undone by a particular implement and will restrict the opportunities for many thieves.
“There are also new registration plates on the market that shatter if anyone tries to remove them.
“Of course there are also measures you can take that do not cost money.
“Consider where you park your vehicle when leaving it unattended. When out and about try to choose areas that are well populated and well lit where it would be obvious if someone was tampering with your vehicle.
“At home, look again at your garden and driveway. Do bushes and other plants hide you vehicle from view? If so you could be making life easy for criminals. Although you are hiding the vehicle from the line of sight of potential offenders you could also be restricting the view of potential witnesses.
“Also consider security lighting which illuminates the area surrounding your vehicle if there is movement nearby. This again will deter all but the most persistent thieves.
“Ultimately there will always be people who seek to profit from crime, but by working together we can make life difficult for them and catch those who persist with their offending behaviour.”
If you have any information about the theft of registration plates or notice anyone acting suspiciously around vehicles please contact Cheshire Police on 0845 458 0000 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.