Last Updated on December 11, 2021 by Bernard Juchli
Your license plate can be stolen which is why this article discusses how to report stolen license plate. Therefore, it should not be surprising if you meet your parked car without its license plates.
When your license plate is stolen, report it to the police and the DMV. You will need temporary tags to legally drive your car while applying for permanent license plates. If your plates go missing at a business center, inform the business management.
Your registration plate is stolen for various reasons, including incriminating you, putting it on a stolen car, cold plating, etc. Thus, you want to report the stolen plates to protect you from being liable for wrongful charges, crime, etc.
How to Report Stolen License Plate
Reporting your stolen plates is easy. Below are the steps regarding how to report stolen license plates:
Notify the business
The first party you want to inform about your stolen plates is the business where you parked your car. They can review their security cameras for the criminal. It could a restaurant, hotel, paid parking lot, etc., or any establishment.
You can also get the business management to discount your bill for your loss and the inconvenience you would go through. It is not mandatory for the business to compensate your stolen plates, so do not force them.
If the plates are stolen in your home, review your security camera if possible.
Report to the police
Report your stolen license to your local police department. You can dial the emergency number for a dispatcher. An officer will arrive to investigate the incident.
Note that you must not drive your car, especially if both the front and back plates have been stolen. Wait until the dispatcher arrives.
Nevertheless, the officer can write a report about your stolen license plates and, perhaps, issue a card so you can drive home with no license. If you are pulled over for no plates, you present the card which explains that your plates were stolen and that you are permitted to drive home with no plates.
You may get a police report the same day or the following day.
Notify your local DMV
The next party you want to inform is your DMV (it is not DMV in all states). If you are out of state, you can contact your car dealership to inform the DMV about your stolen plates. Your family member may be able to visit the nearest DMV in person to report your stolen plates.
If the police agency does not file a report for you, you have to complete the Certification of Lost Plates via your local motor vehicle agency’s website. Ensure to include the date you requested the police report the police agency refused to write you.
Visit your local DMV’s website to get the correct form to complete. Do not hesitate to use our comment section so we can assist you with the correct URL for your state’s DMV form.
Apply for a temporary tag
Some states will process new permanent license plates for you. Generally, however, you will get a temporary tag so that you can drive your car home. This is if the dispatcher does not issue you some kind of permit to legally drive without your plates.
Get new license plates
You can request new license plates at your local DMV. If you are out of state, your car dealer may be able to complete this process. You can also request new plates online, depending on your state.
You need the following documents to get replacement license plates for your stolen plates:
- Police report or statement
- Title certificate
- Proof of insurance
- A valid photo ID
The documents above are the requirements in most states. Your state may have additional requirements, so refer to your DMV’s website before mailing or submitting the paperwork in person.
What if one plate is stolen?
If you have a set of two plates and one license plate is stolen, you do not require a police report in most states. Nevertheless, inform the police about it.
In New York, you are required to surrender the second registration plate at your local DMV. To replace the plate for free, you need a police report as proof that your license plate was stolen and not damaged or lost.
If you legally use one plate at the back in your state, then you have no plate left, so you have to report your stolen plate to the police.
Do not drive your car home if you have one plate left until the dispatcher arrives. The police officer should be able to clear you so that you do not get into trouble if pulled over by other cops. As mentioned earlier, you should be given a written note that permits you to drive home. You should get the officer’s details for verifications that you were lawfully permitted to drive home.
Why would someone steal a license plate?
Your license plate can be stolen for use on a stolen car to give it a new identity. In this way, they get away with cops pulling them over for driving without plates. This is called cold plating, and also prevents an easy identification of the car since the plate is different. Unfortunately, the registered owner of the plate is responsible for any criminal activity or charges recorded on the stolen plate.
Is a stolen license plate a felony?
Generally, stealing a license plate is a misdemeanor. Depending on the value, severity, and other factors in question, it can be charged as a felony. A felony is considered a more serious crime than a misdemeanor which also carries higher penalties and a longer jail term.
If you receive no card or police report from the dispatcher, do not drive the car home. You can have it towed instead.
But with the dispatcher’s card, and perhaps, a full police report, you can drive home without license plates. If you get pulled over by other officers, present the card and police report to explain yourself.