Fresno thieves target vehicle license plates

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License plates are the latest target of thieves in Central Fresno. Police say they're being used to cover up other crimes. One of the crooks was recently caught on camera. (KFSN)

License plates are the latest target of thieves in Central Fresno. Police say they're being used to cover up other crimes. One of the crooks was recently caught on camera.

Surveillance cameras outside an apartment in Fresno's Lowell neighborhood capture a thief slowly unscrewing the license plates from a Toyota Prius.

"When I saw this footage I was kind of surprised," said Sergio Cortes. "He was out there for a good five minutes taking the plates out."

Cortes says the cameras caught the same guy returning to his car two hours after the initial crime at 9pm Monday. The video shows him taking the front plate.

Police say crooks are likely using the stolen items as a cover-up. "That is to cold plate a stolen car usually," said Fresno Police Lt. Joe Gomez. "Or they could take a plate that has a valid tab on it, to defeat registration fees."

30 reports city-wide have been filed in the past seven days. On the "Please Help Stop Crime in the Tower District" Facebook page several other people complained about falling victim.

Amy Roberts says her plate was stolen outside her work in the Tower District. "It's not like I make a lot of money," she said. "It's a big hassle having to worry about being pulled over constantly because you don't have your tags or license plate. It's just frustrating."

Another man posted his vintage plates were stolen from his '68 Chevy. They are classic plates the DMV won't replace.

Victims can get standard plate replacements at their cost. "It was certainly a hassle to take time off work and go to the DMV, get the license plates," Cortes said.

Police say crooks may also be after the registration stickers.



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