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SLCPD: Know Your License Plate Number and Check it Often

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Police Department is reminding community members about the importance of knowing your vehicle’s license plate number and regularly checking to ensure it is not lost or stolen.

“This is an important public safety reminder,” said SLCPD Chief Mike Brown. “We’ve seen car thieves swapping out license plates before, but to this extent is unusual. Taking the time to know your license plate is important because if your car is stolen, or if your license plate is stolen or swapped, you can immediately report it to our officers so we can start an investigation to hopefully recover your property.”

At approximately 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday December 28, 2022, two officers assigned to the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Liberty Bike Squad saw a silver 2011 Nissan Maxima near 1300 South and 300 West.

The car matched the same description as a silver 2011 Nissan Maxima reported stolen on December 28, 2022.

The officers ran the license plate through a national database and learned the license plate came back as stolen.

Because the car matched the description of the stolen car and the license plate came back as stolen, officers did a felony traffic stop.

Officers detained the three people inside the car. Everyone fully cooperated with officers.

During the investigation, officers checked the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is when they realized someone had placed a stolen license plate on the driver’s car. That stolen license plate matched the same color, make and model of the car officers stopped.

“We’ve seen thieves swap out license plates to the same model of car, but the person who put the stolen license plate on the victim’s car had everything matching, including the color, make, model, and even the ‘In God We Trust’ license plate style,” Chief Brown added. “We can only assume the person who illegally did so is now driving around with the victim’s legitimate license plate trying to avoid detection. Because of this, we’ve now entered that plate into our database as stolen.”

Officers explained the situation to those in the car. The driver, who legally possessed the car, stated she had no idea someone swapped out her license plate.

Officers booked the stolen license plate into evidence and provided the driver and passengers information on what to do if they got stopped by law enforcement for not temporarily having a license plate on the back of their car until it can be properly replaced.

The driver and her passengers all thanked the officers on scene once released.

The Salt Lake City Police Department encourages community members to:

1)      Document your license plate number; take a photo of it, print it or email yourself a copy so it can be readily accessible.

2)     Check your license plate regularly to make sure it is still valid with proper registration and to ensure it is in fact your original license plate.

3)     Report any lost or stolen license plate immediately to law enforcement and begin the process of obtaining a new license plate.

Two photos from the scene are being released. Media may use these photos with property credit to the Salt Lake City Police Department.