CRIME ALERT: License plate thieves strike area vehicles

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- You expect them to be there every time you zip around town.

But lately, drivers in the area have been finding license plates disappearing off their vehicles.

Over the past two weeks, the Eau Claire Police Department has gotten six reports of stolen license plates in the city.

Cachina Daratsianakis told WEAU 13 News that she came out of a local restaurant on Jan. 4 to find both of her license plates missing.

“Just wondering who would have did that,” Daratsianakis said.

The Eau Claire woman believes they were swiped off her minivan outside her Cochrane Street home sometime the night before.

A couple days after she called police, there was a break in the case.

“The officer did call me on Monday and they did retrieve the plates,” Daratsianakis said.

It turns out that on the night of the theft, an Eau Claire County Sheriff’s deputy ran Daratsianakis' plates on a different vehicle during a traffic stop.

Her reporting the stolen plates then lead officers back to the suspected plate thieves.

“I was just worried because if they do go commit some kind of crime, they’re my plates involved,” Daratsianakis said.

Officers said this is happening all over town.

On Dec. 31, a man said his license plates were stolen off his vehicle at Sacred Heart Hospital.

A recent police report says a woman’s plates were stolen off her car parked along Richard Drive.

Officer Kyle Roder said if you steal a plate, the joke is on you!

“We do enter that in the National Crime Information Database, and anytime an officer then runs that license plate it's going to kick back and show that was a stolen plate and then we’ll take the appropriate enforcement action,” Officer Roder said.

Because missing plates are sometimes hard to track, police said you should always check on them before heading out.

“What that's going to do is help us to determine a time frame of maybe when they were stolen,” Officer Roder said.

Daratsiankis has installed a security camera outside her house in case thieves come again.

“They should think twice because it is a stupid crime. And most likely they will get caught like the people who stole mine did,” Daratsiankis said.

Police are also reminding drivers getting tough screws, a car alarm and parking in well-lit areas will help protect your plate.

In Feb. 2012, WEAU did a story about license plate thefts in Eau Claire.

Officer Roder said the department doesn’t see a trend in plates being stolen more in the winter than any other season.

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