Investigation shows hundreds of tags stolen from Atlanta cars

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ATLANTA —

License plate theft is becoming a growing problem in Atlanta, and victims say they want more done to fight this type of crime.

After receiving complaints from viewers, Channel 2’s Amy Napier Viteri requested reports for stolen tags from the Atlanta Police Department. She received a stack of reports detailing how common the problem is.

According to APD, 250 tags have been stolen since the beginning of the year. In some of the reports, drivers didn’t realize what happened until after their cars were towed.

Lavesta Parks is one of several drivers Viteri spoke to who has had the tag stolen off her car. She not only had her tag stolen, it was replaced with another tag as she was parked at her mother’s southeast Atlanta apartment.

“If they (police) got behind me and ran my tag, then I would have had to have a good explanation why that tag was on my car,” Parks said.

Parks said she reported the tag stolen after her mother noticed it was different, but she wonders what could have happened if the tag was from a vehicle used in a serious offense.

“A police officer pulls you over and they think it could be a serious felon inside that vehicle and you’re just trying to get home from the grocery store,” Parks said.

An APD source told Viteri, depending on the crime associated with the tag No., it’s possible an officer would pull their weapon when stopping a car. Investigators said the main reason a criminal will steal a car tag is to conceal the identity of the car they are using.

“Maybe he’s in a stolen car. Maybe he’s in a car used in a crime, or maybe he didn’t want to pay his ad valorem tax and renew his tag,” Sgt. Greg Lyon of the Atlanta Police Department said.

Parks said police have not identified who took her tag.