Protect your plates in Lufkin

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It only takes a few seconds and a screwdriver for a thief to steal your license plate.  Police officers say is a potential way for them to steal gas, with a plate registered in your name.

Lufkin Police Lt. David Young says, "We've received several reports in the last couple of weeks of license plates being stolen off vehicles and trailers," most of parked in their owner's driveways.

"Most we see are front plates, but I just think that's easier access. People pull in forward and they can get up there without being seen," says Lt. Young.

We're less likely to notice if a front plate is gone.

Lt. Young says, "People tend to notice that rear plate is missing because that front plate they don't see as often."

So what are thieves really using the plates for? Lt. Young says with high prices, it may be for gas.

"We're seeing if these start showing up in our gas theft reports. It hasn't happened yet, but is happening across the country, so we expect it to happen here soon," says Lt. Young.

Gas stations can help prevent that crime, because the average drive-off cost about $60.

"We're seeing stores go to pay at the pump. This is just too much money for someone to leave out there and trust that someone will pay," says Lt. Young.

And gas isn't the only reason to take plates.  Some thieves will use stolen plates on another car to commit a crime and some just want a valid plate because their registration expired. So how do we protect our cars?

Unfortunately lt. Young says there's not a whole lot we can do to keep it from happening.  "You can super glue it, but at some point you are going to have to take those off and exchange those tags. So anything you do you will have to deal with later."

But we can be diligent.  Check your license plates every time you park your car, even if it's in the driveway and if you do realize it's gone, report it right away so you won't be responsible for any crime committed with it.