RISING petrol prices are fuelling a big increase in the theft of number plates from cars across Doncaster.
Registration plates are worth only about £20 - but they can be used to commit much more profitable crime.
In the past number plate thefts have averaged around 1,000 a year across the whole of South Yorkshire, but for the first three months of this year there have been about 100 in Doncaster alone.
Police say the plates can be fitted to other cars, often the same model and make, to carry out driveaway thefts from petrol stations or to help ‘clone’ a stolen car of the same type.
One of the most recent registration number thefts happened in Bessacarr when plates were pinched from a 22-year-old woman’s Vauxhall Corsa.
Across the UK number plate theft has tripled over the past three years and with petrol hovering around £1.40 a litre there could be even more.
Thefts in Doncaster have taken place across the borough, although the majority have occurred in large public car parks.
Insp Amanda Hunter, from Doncaster Crime Management Unit, said: “We take number plate theft very seriously and to help tackle the problem officers from the safer neighbourhood teams will be holding car clinics in various locations across Doncaster, where they will be offering members of the public a £1 anti-theft number plate kit.
“The security screw kits are easy to fit but very hard to remove - making it difficult for criminals to quickly steal a registration plate to disguise criminal activity, such as petrol forecourt drive-offs, robberies and other serious offences.”