Denver police warn of increasing license plate theft

DENVER -- Police say thefts  of license plates from vehicles are rising in Denver. The problem is so severe, the Denver Police Department is giving away specialized screws to make it more difficult for thieves to steal plates.

License plate theft happens citywide every day, according to police. In the Capitol Hill area, officers took reports from more than 30 people over the past month.

“I’m surprised,” Capitol Hill resident Courtney Novara said. “This is a pretty safe neighborhood and right across from the police station -- so I’m pretty surprised. It’s shocking.”

Unsuspecting victims find themselves pulled over by police for not having plates. They also have to take time to get new plates.

For most vehicles, it doesn’t take long to swipe a plate. Standard flat-head and Phillips-head screws are the easiest for thieves. But not everyone has the needed tools for the screws police officers are giving away.

“It’s actually good that they’re actually putting out new screws for license plates,” Capitol Hill resident Jeannette Belanger said. “I don’t want somebody stealing my license plate and then my car.”

Police said plates are stolen for the tags drivers pay for every year, but thieves also steal them for stolen cars as a way to throw off officers who might be on the lookout for a particular plate number.

Police said drivers will need to buy a specialized tool to remove the free screws or return to area police stations for screw removal.