Over 100,000 number plates stolen since 2015 – AA

Over 100,000 number plates stolen since 2015 – AA

Posted 26 November, 2018 at 16:38

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of (IFM) Independent Forecourt Magazine


  • FOI of police forces shows more than 22,000 stolen so far in 2018
  • West Midlands and Greater Manchester are plate hotspots outside London
  • A fifth say if they were missing one number plate they would assume it had fallen off

The AA has learnt that at least 25,000 number plates are stolen each year, following a Freedom of Information request to all UK police forces*.

From the 34 of 45 forces that provided data to the AA, the Metropolitan Police recorded the most thefts with 32,307 over a 45-month period.

The West Midlands was the second most force with over 12,000 number plate theft. So far this year, 2,352 number plates have been reported as stolen.

Wrapping up the top three is Greater Manchester. Last year 2,549 registration plates had been recorded as stolen.

Taking into account number plates likely to have been stolen in police force areas where FOI figures were unavailable, a conservative estimate for the whole of the UK sits between 25,000 and 30,000 a year.

In a recent survey of over 20,000 AA members, a fifth (18%**) of drivers said that if they were missing one number plate they would assume it had fallen off and not report to the police.

However, if their car were missing both of its number plates three quarters (76%) would report it to the police.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA says; “While a small percentage of the UK’s national vehicles suffer the inconvenience and frustration of having their number plate stolen, it is incredible serious issue.

“Stolen plates are often cloned and put onto other vehicles. These are then used to cover up further criminal activity, such as selling stolen cars or burglary.

“More than a quarter (28%) of drivers say that if one plate were missing from their vehicle they wouldn’t report it to the police. Drivers should report any number plate theft as the innocent victim could end up receiving speeding tickets and other traffic fines.

“Drivers can take preventative steps by parking in a locked garage, attach the plate with anti-theft screws or install anti-theft number plates which shatter if they are removed by force.”

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