Nashville police are searching for the people responsible for an increase in license plate thefts in west Nashville and the Bellevue area.
West Precinct police said there has been an increase in people reporting their license plates being stolen from their cars while parked at home and in retail parking lots.
Metro police said it is unclear why the thieves are stealing the license plates, whether it is for other criminal acts or a prank, but officers are on alert to try to catch the culprit.
The Davidson County Clerk's Office said they had seen a decrease in replacement license plates between January and February, but an increase county wide between February and March.
Davidson County Clerk Brenda Wynn said exact numbers of license plates replaced due to theft are not immediately available because all replacement license plates are kept in the same category regardless of the reason for the replacement.
Wynn said drivers should report their license plate stolen immediately to law enforcement in the area where it was stolen.
The victim then is supposed to bring their police report to the county clerk's office and sign an affidavit swearing their license plate was stolen from their vehicle.
Then the person pays a fee of between $14 and $15, according to Wynn.
The county clerk said it is imperative stolen license plates are reported immediately because until it is, the license plate will be attached to the owner of the vehicle it was issued to originally.
Shoppers in west Nashville were surprised to find out criminals were targeting whole license plates as opposed to registration stickers.
“They are not that expensive, so I don't get it,” Rod Rodriguez said. “They must be to some I guess.”
He continued, “I hope it never happens to me.”
Mona Bunker worried that the thief could use the license plate to commit a crime and elude police, but that if it were her license plate she could be in trouble.
“The only reason why they are stealing it is because they want to do something illegal with it,” she said. “Otherwise they wouldn't want my plate.”
Metro police are on the lookout for the people responsible for the thefts. Anyone who sees something suspicious in their area should call Metro police at 615-862-8600.