Police record an increase in number plate thefts across South Yorkshire

A police investigation has been launched after a 21-year-old man was allegedly sexually assaulted as he walked down a busy Sheffield road.
A police investigation has been launched after a 21-year-old man was allegedly sexually assaulted as he walked down a busy Sheffield road.

The theft of number plates is on the rise in South Yorkshire, according to new police figures.

An average of 56 number plates are stolen every day from vehicles in England and Wales, with South Yorkshire Police recording a 13 per cent increase in offences.

There were 20,717 reported thefts across the country in 2014, down 12 per cent from 23,667 in 2010, the RAC said.

The figures were calculated after 34 police forces responded to Freedom of Information requests by the motoring organisation.

Criminals have been found to fix stolen plates to other cars of the same make and model in a bid to make them appear genuine.

This makes it harder for them to be caught committing offences such as speeding or leaving fuel forecourts without paying.

Although the overall total of thefts in England and Wales has fallen since 2010, seven police forces revealed the problem has worsened.

West Midlands Police experienced the largest rise at 38 per cent, followed by Derbyshire, with a 34 per cent increase.

South Yorkshire has seen a 13 per cent hike.

Pete Williams of the RAC said: “Number plate theft is unlikely to happen in isolation, and goes hand in hand with other types of crime such as motor vehicle theft and burglary.

“So instances of number plates being stolen are probably symptomatic of a wider issue that police forces are no doubt well aware of.

“To reduce the chances of becoming a victim, motorists can take steps such as purchasing tamper-resistant number plates or screws, and parking their vehicle in as secure and well-lit location as possible.”

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said: “The levels of vehicle crime, including theft from motor vehicles, have fallen by nearly three quarters since 1997.

“The National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, UK police forces, the Home Office and vehicle component manufacturers have been working in partnership for some considerable time to prevent and detect such offences.

“Those efforts have clearly paid dividends and we will endeavour to build upon these successes.”