A trend of stolen license plates has left San Diego residents frustrated.
North Park resident Ray Gallatin reported his rear license plate stolen on the popular neighborhood social networking site NextDoor.com. It would seem he's not alone.
San Francisco police recently uncovered a massive criminal scheme involving stolen license plates where stolen license plates were being placed on identical stolen cars. The criminal enterprise was only uncovered when local residents began getting unusual mystery parking tickets.
While San Diego police haven't seen anything this clever here, a stolen license plate is still an enormous inconvenience for local residents.
Replacing a stolen license plate requires filing a police report so the stolen plates are flagged and logged, and then applying for new plates with the DMV. But why are the plates stolen in the first place?
Usually it is to cover up for another crime committed. Stolen cars are the most common and obvious crime, as was the case in San Francisco, but local unhoused resident John (not his real name) let me know of another case where plates have come in handy.
"You've got the guys that are chopping bikes starting to sell these plates as well," he said outside a Starbucks in Grantville. "They're selling for a few bucks to people living in their cars. To avoid these stupid tickets."
With the number of people living in their cars, and San Diego Police stepping up enforcement, it makes sense that evading the license plate reader database would be a priority for the unhoused.
California Vehicle Code Section 4463 can impose up to 36 months in county jail and a $10,000 fine depending on the facts of the case.