As the price of oil hovers around $90 a barrel and gasoline prices jump, thieves around the world are stealing licence plates, attaching them to their own cars and then driving off without paying after filling up at the pump. In Denmark, stolen plates are used not only for gas theft but in robberies and other crimes as well. There, the increase in stolen plates rose 20 per cent in 2010, costing Danish gas stations $3.4 million. In central England, the rate of plate theft went up 50 per cent.
Police and gas companies are working to combat the problem. In Adelaide, Australia, police are selling one-way screw sets for $2; a police sergeant told the Adelaide Leader-Messenger that “they can still be removed, but they very much slow a person down and require them to carry a couple of implements to remove the plates.” In New Zealand, BP stations installed software that photographs licence plates at the pump and instantly cross-references the number with a list of plates reported stolen or that had been used in previous thefts. In most of the U.S. and parts of Canada, of course, you simply have to pay before you pump.