Thieves steal plates to place on stolen vehicles

SARPY COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) - Car theft isn't always a crime of opportunity. Sometimes thieves look for a certain vehicle they can steal and drive for a while, and they're good at disguising their crimes.

Two men made an early morning visit to Sarpy county Motors to jimmy open the door and hot wire a low-mileage Ram pickup. It didn't matter the the vehicle didn't have license plates.

"Yeah, I mean, they could go get a plate anywhere off a truck that looks similar to it and drive it for who knows how long," dealer manager Travis Weller said.

The pickup's description was broadcast to law enforcement, but a close matching plate might keep officers from giving the vehicle a second glance.

People who who find they are missing a license plate are encouraged to report it to law enforcement, because it could lead officials to a bigger theft.

"It's important for people to report that their license plates were taken, even if you think it's something trivial or not, because somebody could be taking and putting them on another car that could be stolen or involved in another crime," Deputy Lindsey Varona with the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office said.

A week after being stolen, Danielle Anderson's car was recovered with a stolen plate.

"It wasn't an Iowa plate for a Pontiac G6 in Iowa," she explained.

The thieves also added a racing strip and painted Anderson's silver rims black.

"They're disgusting cars after they steal them. They have no regard for what they're doing to the car," she said.

Though it may be easier to avoid detection with a stolen plate, it's not impossible to be spotted.

"Our deputies use their in-car computer to run plates when they're at intersections," Lt. Dennis Svoboda with the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office said.

Sarpy County Motors said the pickup was the second vehicle stolen off the lot in the last three months.

The pickup stolen Monday morning is a silver 2005 Ram Quad Cab with 121,000 miles on the odometer.