DENVER -- Police are warning residents to keep their cars locked and take their valuables with them after officers have tracked 36 break-ins in two weeks in the Sloan's Lake neighborhood.
The Denver Police Department said of the 36 break-ins, 17 involved license plates being stolen. In another 17 cases, police said car owners left items in plain view.
Police said one of the most concerning cases was one in which criminals got away with a high-caliber weapon.
"It’s too easy when someone leaves a weapon, two weapons, six weapons in a vehicle and sometimes they don’t even lock the car and now we have those weapons on the street where they could be used for shootings," police spokesman Paul Pazen said.
Police said the main reason criminals steal license plates is so they can be used in future crimes.
Criminals tack the stolen plates on their cars, hoping it'll make their cars harder to track after the crime is committed.
In some instances, police said people steal plates to avoid paying car registration fees.
Police have special license plate screws that officers can install on vehicles at police stations to deter license plate theft.