By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The province is making changes to license plate renewal it says will accelerate auto theft investigations. 

As of Wednesday this week, motorists are required to report lost or stolen license plates before requesting a replacement plate from registry agents. 

Early reporting of lost or stolen plates allows police to be on alert for licence plates that may be used for illegal purposes, the province said Tuesday.

“A lost or stolen licence plate is not just frustrating for the owner, it can create larger problems if it is used in criminal activity,” said Nate Glubish, Service Alberta minister. “One of those risks is to the safety of law enforcement officers who benefit from having the most accurate, up-to-date information when conducting roadside stops.”

Glubish said requiring a police report for a lost or stolen licence plate is a “common-sense change” to make. 

“In doing so, we are ensuring police have accurate information that can better help them when interacting with motorists and is crucial for an investigation.”

The change was successfully piloted at 12 registry agent offices across Alberta last year. It comes at the recommendation of the Provincial Auto Theft Review Committee, a subcommittee of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, designed to address auto theft in Alberta. The committee has representation from government ministries and law enforcement.

“It is common practice for criminals to disguise their stolen vehicles by attaching an unreported stolen plate associated to a vehicle of a similar make and model,” said Mark Neufeld, Association of Alberta Chiefs of Police president as well as Calgary police chief.

“This tactic allows auto thieves to engage in high-risk criminal activities undetected,” said Neufeld. “This includes dangerous driving, hit-and-run collisions, robberies and break and enters. Mandatory reporting of lost and stolen licence plates will go a long way to making life more difficult for thieves and help keep Albertans safe.”

When motorists go to a registry office to request a replacement for their lost or stolen plate, they will be required to present a police file number. Albertans can file a report at their local police station or over the phone, and many police services provide the ability to file a report online. If the police have not been notified before a request for a replacement plate is made, Albertans can call directly from the registry office at the time of service.

Quick facts

In 2020, registry agents issued 46,307 replacement licence plates for Albertans whose previous plates were lost or stolen.

–  30,687 of the plates were noted as lost

–  15,620 of the plates were noted as stolen

The change does not apply to personalized licence plates, which are issued in pairs.

Reporting a lost or stolen personalized plate requires the Albertan to return the other plate, rendering the plate configuration unusable.

This item is reprinted with permission from Town & Country News, Alberta

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