If Someone Steals Your Illinois Plate, Can You Get In Trouble?
You'd think that this would be an easily answered question. If my plate, or plates were stolen, I'd probably think of myself as being the victim in that scenario. However, an Aurora man found out that things sometimes are just not that clear-cut.
Welcome to the weird world of license plate theft, where you might actually wind up being the victim twice.
It's Not Just Stereos And Catalytic Converters That Are Being Stolen
Wasn't it just a few months back that we were being warned about people stealing catalytic converters off of parked cars (by the way, thieves are still taking those)? Wasn't a piece of hollow metal filled with rare-earth minerals enough?
I'll go ahead and answer my own question here.
No, catalytic converter thefts are apparently not enough for some in the thief community. What are you supposed to steal if you've already got enough catalytic converters around the house? Why not license plates?
So, What Could Actually Happen To You If Someone Swipes Your Plates?
I'd love to tell you that nothing really could happen to you if you're the victim of license plate theft...but that is simply not true. What happens if your stolen plates end up on a car with a driver that loves to run red lights, blow past speed cameras, and generally behave in a completely reckless manner?
Thieves going on joy rides with someone else’s plates can rack up violations and fines, resulting in a costly inconvenience for victims. Tomas Fernandez of Aurora said he had no idea his plates were stolen until red-light and speed camera violations from the city of Chicago started to arrive in his mailbox. Ten separate violations, with fines totaling more than $1,000, were soon in his possession.
But, couldn't Mr. Fernandez get off the hook if he pointed out that his plates were stolen and it wasn't him doing that?
Nope. The city of Chicago told him he was still liable for the fines, no matter what his explanation was.
Here's What To Do If It Happens To You
I know it may seem odd, but one way to know that your plates have been stolen is to make sure you check to see if they're still on your car before driving. If you make a habit of that, you'll know in short order that you've got some calls to make.
- Immediately call police and file a report on the theft. Don't drive your car until you do.
- Reach out to the Illinois Secretary of State's office. You'll need to fill out a license plate revocation form.
- There are license plate locks and anti-theft screws available at your favorite hardware store, so it might be worth grabbing yourself some.
Oh, and speaking of Illinois license plates: