Dubai police say they are working to curb a trend for licence plate thefts, noting that almost 800 cases have been investigated in the past three years.
“In the past three years, 799 cases involving licence plate number theft were recorded across the country. We are looking into methods to reduce this number as it’s considered alarming,” said Col Adel Al Joker, head of criminal investigations at Dubai police.
“Stealing licence plate numbers from vehicles will lead to other crimes. No one steals a vehicle’s plate number just to keep it for themselves. They usually steal licence plate numbers to commit a major crime that threatens community security. Some of these crimes include impersonating police officers and burglary,” he said.
The colonel warned the plates could also be used to facilitate prostitution and smuggle stolen cars and alcoholic beverages.
Maj Gen Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai police, said: “Police officers are monitoring the existence of any occurances linked to criminal activities.”
Officials from the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Public Prosecution and several other Government departments discussed methods and new techniques to curb the thefts.
“The key is to increase public awareness,” said Maj Gen Al Marri.
Electronic licence plates were among the new solutions suggested by police and private companies who are seeking to develop the technology were present at the conference.
Police also warned that personalised and rare plates could be a tempting target for thieves. The value of previously stolen rare plates was not disclosed.
Col Al Joker said the penalty for stealing a plate is harsh and could be as extreme as being "sentenced for life”.