SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Salt Lake City Police Department is reminding community members to know their own license plate numbers and to check regularly that their plates have not been stolen and replaced.

Last Wednesday, Dec. 28, two officers saw a silver 2011 Nissan Maxima near 1300 South and 300 West around 3:15 p.m. The car matched the description of a vehicle that was reported stolen on the same day. A search on the license plate reportedly came back as stolen as well.

Officers decided to conduct a traffic stop and the three occupants of the car were detained.

After checking the Vehicle Identification Number, officers realized that someone had replaced the vehicle’s license plate with one from a stolen car. The stolen license plate matched the same color, make and model of the car officers stopped.

“We’ve seen thieves swap out license plates to the same model of car, but the person who put the stolen license plate on the victim’s car had everything matching, including the color, make, model, and even the ‘In God We Trust’ license plate style,” said SLCPD Police Chief Mike Brown. “We can only assume the person who illegally did so is now driving around with the victim’s legitimate license plate trying to avoid detection. Because of this, we’ve now entered that plate into our database as stolen.”

The driver reportedly told police that she had no idea someone had swapped out her license plate. Police booked the stolen license plate into evidence.

SLCPD lists the following ways community members can avoid situations like this:

  1. Document your license plate number; take a photo of it, print it or email yourself a copy so it can be readily accessible.
  2. Check your license plate regularly to make sure it is still valid with proper registration and to ensure it is in fact your original license plate.
  3. Report any lost or stolen license plate immediately to law enforcement and begin the process of obtaining a new license plate.