License plate thefts leave drivers at risk

Police said thieves in the Portland metro area have been stealing license plates off cars and replacing them with others, April 7, 2014. (KOIN)
Police said thieves in the Portland metro area have been stealing license plates off cars and replacing them with others, April 7, 2014. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Police said thieves in the Portland metro area have been stealing license plates off cars and replacing them with others.

Skylar Wallace said he never thought twice about checking his front and back license plates on his Nissan Titan until several weeks ago when two police officers knocked on his door.

“They were like, ‘Do you own a Nissan Titan downstairs?’ and I said, ‘Yeah,’ and they said, ‘Do you have your registration by any chance?’ I said, ‘It’s in my car.’ I went downstairs with them, and they said, ‘Well, somebody stole your license plates,’” said Wallace.

Wallace said he typically parks his truck on the street of Corbett in SW Portland, which is where police believe someone stole the license plate off the front of his truck but left the back one behind.

Police said thieves in the Portland metro area have been stealing license plates off cars and replacing them with others, April 7, 2014. (KOIN)
Police said thieves in the Portland metro area have been stealing license plates off cars and replacing them with others, April 7, 2014. (KOIN)

Officer Jason Graf said he was on patrol when his high-tech camera mounted on his patrol car picked up Wallace’s stolen plate.

Graff said suspects often steal a car and then steal the plates off a similar make and model and replace it with the stolen one with unsuspecting drives never noticing.

“They’ll put the plate from the stolen car from that vehicle and take the good plate and put it on their stolen car which buys them more time,” said Graff.

Police said fugitive Kelly Swoboda was believed to have stolen plates from a car and places them on his van before he was caught near Woodrow Wilson high School in SW Portland.

Graff said in worse case scenarios, unsuspecting drivers can get caught in risky situations accused of being car thieves or worse.

Wallace said he is now looking into purchasing safety screws, which are available at local hardware stores and can permanently bolt a license plate into place.

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