Green Bay police warn of license plate thefts

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay police are warning people to check their license plates.

Police say they've recently had a "higher than usual" number of reports of stolen license plates.

"When we drill down the reasons why people commit theft and what they're actually stealing, we realized 18 license plates have been stolen since May 1," said Commander Kevin Warych with the Green Bay Police Department.

Someone could use stolen plates to help them get away with a crime. Recently, $13,000 was stolen from local bank branches by someone driving an SUV with two different plates on the front and back -- neither of which was registered to that SUV (see related story).

"Are they being stolen to commit other crimes? Are they being stolen just for the fun of it? We don't know the answer to that at this point," said Warych.

Police realize people often don't check their front and back license plates when they get in their vehicle, so it's difficult to pinpoint when or where they were stolen.

"What we're seeing when we're reviewing all of these stolen lights plates complaints is the fact that the rear license plates are the most commonly stolen," he said.

Police are asking people to be alert, report a license plate theft as soon as you notice it, and report any suspicious behavior such as someone prowling around vehicles.

"We want people to know that this crime is occurring so that they can protect themselves whether that's lighting, whether that's parking, whether that's being on the lookout for one another," said Warych. "We just want to make sure the community knows what's going on."

People responsible for stealing license plates face a charge of possession of stolen property which is a misdemeanor that can be referred to the District Attorney's office.