A stolen license plate story
Police Services who?
Police Services here to confiscate the stolen license plate on your vehicle who.
Well that was a bit of a surprise at 9:15pm last night. When I heard the doorbell ring I looked up from my desk in the upstairs bedroom and looked out over the driveway and saw a cruiser parked. It was a year ago less a week that about the same time of the evening another cruiser parked there and rang the doorbell bringing me the news my father had been killed in a car accident. This time I looked out the window and without thinking I muttered the words…”who died now?” never guessing it was about a stolen license plate.
Of course there were other things that popped through my head, like maybe it was my driving or the fact that I tend to yell at people who drive without due care and attention especially in school zones when school is in session and some bozo has a heavy right foot or doesn’t yield to pedestrians. I may be a bad ass in my own way but there are things you just don’t screw with and no one wants to be responsible for injuring a child. But, other thoughts popped in my head too…everything from illegal downloads to being falsely accused of something. It wasn’t any of that.
When I opened the door two officers greeted me and asked my identity, and once confirmed asked if the license plate they were holding up belonged to me. A quick glance confirmed it was and I wondered if maybe it had fallen off and these kind gentlemen were here to return it. When I asked where they’d found it because I had no recollection of it falling off they replied that it was on a stolen vehicle….a black jeep identical to mine. I asked when that happened…and they replied the vehicle was stolen two weeks prior and most likely my plate was taken the same night.
When I exclaimed that I would have noticed if my plate was missing, one of them responded with “not if they put the stolen vehicle’s plate in it’s place.” And when I looked like a confused chihuahua with a cocked head he motioned for me to follow him outside. Once we rounded the back end of my jeep it was plain to see…that was not my plate affixed to the tailgate, but the stolen license plate from the stolen jeep.
Ok, so ordinarily it wouldn’t be so bad, most people wouldn’t have noticed. But here in the last two years new vehicle registrations now use a seven digit plate instead of the conventional six. All the times in the last two weeks that I had walked around the back end of my jeep, I hadn’t noticed a seven digit stolen license plate in place where my plate should have been. I guess that’s the MO, steal a vehicle, find an identical vehicle to swap plates with, and hope the owner of the swapped plate doesn’t notice so they can joyride to their heart’s content knowing that the plate matches the vehicle description.
Obviously the police recovered the stolen jeep and my plate but when asked, they had yet to apprehend the thieves. It’s times like this when you wish you really had sprung for that video surveillance system around the house instead of motion detector lights. When they asked me to remove the stolen license plate I went over to the garage door and took my key out and put it in the hidden garage door opener switch, which kind of impressed them, but it was when the door came up and they saw the bikes and all sorts of toys etc that things kinda took a different turn.
When I got the socket and driver to take off the plate one of the officers was slowly wandering around inside the garage looking at the bikes, I had nothing to hide so as long as he was just looking and not touching, everything was cool. But from that point on that particular officer’s demeanor changed, no more chit chat, no more smiles, or chuckles at my constant jokes or referrals to my failing eyesight….I could tell something wasn’t sitting right with him and he looked at me differently….with suspicion. At that point I felt uncomfortable enough to get this over with and removed the stolen license plate from my jeep and quickly filled out a brief report stating that my plate had been swapped for a stolen license plate and I hadn’t noticed.
Thank you very much, now leave….
Swapping plates is one of the oldest tricks in the book because…face it…do we really check our plate other than a cursory look? The mind is a funny thing….if the plate was gone, memory would grab our attention and go…”hey, this picture is different, something is missing”….but if everything looks to be in place we don’t necessarily notice especially if we’re concentrating on other things. So now, I’ll go and grab some antitamper screws for the vehicle so nothing like this happens again..