Your number plates are a hot target for thieves. There are around 20,000 number plate thefts reported in Victoria each year – that’s more than 55 a day. They are the number one item stolen from cars.
Thieves steal your plates to use them on other vehicles when committing crimes such as petrol theft, drug trafficking, ram raids, burglaries, to evade police, and to avoid speeding fines and road tolls. If the plates have standard screws, thieves can unscrew them in less than 10 seconds.
Replacing a set of number plates can cost anywhere between $39 and $293 depending on the type of plates you have and whether they’re general issue, personalised, special interest or slimline plates.
If you keep driving without number plates, you could be fined $144 and earn 3 demerit points.
If your plates are stolen, you have to report the theft to Victoria Police and VicRoads as soon as possible and arrange new plates.
General issue plates recorded as stolen cannot be reissued – you’ll be given a new number plate with a different rego number. Which means you’ll also have to update your rego details, your car insurance info, roadside assistance membership and road toll account.
Also factor in the unexpected traffic camera fines and road tolls that thieves might clock up using your stolen plates – that you’ll have to try and have reversed.
Having your standard number plate screws swapped for one‐way, anti‐theft screws, greatly reduces the risk of your plates being stolen. These special screws have been designed to make it a whole lot harder for thieves to remove your plates.
Anti-theft screws can be easily fastened with a regular flat-bladed screwdriver, however the shape of the slot means that unlike normal screws, they can only be turned in one direction – clockwise.
Different cars will have different screw types, so it’s important to get the right screw before you start. Check our handy vehicle reference guide to see which screws your vehicle takes.
Local Neighbourhood Watch groups hold regular Safe Plate events with local police, where volunteers fix anti-theft screws for a gold coin donation.
To find out if there is an upcoming Safe Plate event near you, visit our events calendar. They are also promoted on your local Victoria Police Eyewatch or Neighbourhood Watch group’s Facebook pages.
Some police stations will provide anti-theft screws free-of-charge or you can buy them from most hardware stores.
Anti-theft screws are purposely designed to be extremely difficult to unscrew. Once fitted, they need a special tool to remove them quickly and easily.
Most police stations have this tool. So, if you do need to remove them, it’s best to visit your local police station in your car and ask them to swap the screws over for you.
You may need to prove you own the vehicle and make sure to take some regular screws with you to swap over, so you can drive home legally.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.