Madison County, Illinois has seen a spate of thefts recently from car dealerships, but it’s not for the cars. It’s for the dealer plates, according to KMOV, a CBS-affiliated news station in St. Louis.
Brian Trust of family-owned Trust Family Auto Sales in Godfrey, Illinois told KMOV that surveillance cameras caught a group of men in a metallic colored Mercury Grand Marquis scoping out his lot in mid-April. The same men returned several hours later and removed two dealer plates off a Mercedes and a van.
“It’ll just amaze you that they just have no regard for surveillance cameras. They just do it in daylight,” Trust told the news station. “It’s pretty frustrating because we pay a pretty good fee just to have a dealer’s plate and dealer’s insurance so it’s a little disturbing.”
The same group of thieves was reportedly responsible for stealing more plates from Quality Buick GMC Cadillac in Alton, Illinois on the same night. While two of the thieves pretended to take photos of a car, a female accomplice removed the plates with a screwdriver. Chad Stevenson with Quality Buick GMC Cadillac told KMOV that in all, eight sets of plates have been stolen from the dealership recently, and as many as six dealership lots were targeted.
Dealer plates are the most commonly stolen type of license plate, according to the Automobile Dealer Training Association (ADTA). Madison County investigators told the news station that dealer plate theft is a growing problem. After lifting the plates, criminals are selling them or trading them for drugs. Local dealers have announced a reward for information leading to the identification of the thieves.
“Let them get captured, let justice be served,” said Trust.
ADTA recommends that dealers not use magnets to attach dealer plates to inventory vehicles, since it makes them easier to steal, and that plates should be removed each night and kept locked up until a vehicle is test-driven. Stolen dealer plates should be immediately reported to the state department of motor vehicles.