Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that thefts of number plates have dropped in Wales, from 1,224 in 2008/09 to 956 in 2010/11.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition might be the reason for the downturn in the theft of registration plates, as police can instantly detect cars using the wrong plates, according to Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA.
“If you want to drive uninsured, you’re not going to get very far if the system spots your car isn’t registered as insured,” explained Mr Howard.
“If the police spot that the blue car (with those plates) should be white, it could be the sort of thing that ends with you getting pulled over.”
He believes that detecting number plates that have been reported as stolen can be detected much more easily and helps to reduce other crimes, too.
“So much boils down to the fact that if someone is a criminal they have little regard for the law generally,” he added.
“You can quite often find that they will drive uninsured or break the speed limit. That’s why so many major criminals end up being caught by the police (for minor driving offences).”
Gary Kelly, police inspector for North Wales Police, is backing the technology in its use against crime.
“Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology is deployed extensively across North Wales so should thieves steal number plates, we will immediately be able to recognise if they have been placed on another vehicle when it passes one of our ANPR locations or vehicles,” he revealed.
“This is sending a strong message to criminals, that if they steal cars or number plates in North Wales they will be caught.”
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