CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Police are investigating the theft of license plates in the University area of Charlotte.
Wesley Zimmer now keeps his Ford in the garage. Last week he became another victim in a growing crime in the University area.
Someone stole his license plate.
"I wouldn't think that a tag would be taken,” Zimmer said.
Citywide, the crime is down by about 29 percent over last year, but it’s up in the University area.
There were 23 tags stolen in the first couple of months of this year compared with 15 the same time last year.
“It really would be nice if you could return the tags to their rightful owner,” Zimmer said.
Police said that's likely not going to happen.
They believe part of the reason for the increase is the new law that requires drivers to pay for their tags, which are roughly about $28 and vehicle taxes at the same time.
"On a newer car it could be $300 or $400 just to pay the taxes and renew the tags,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Lt. Jim Wright.
He said some people are deciding to steal the license plate from a car of the same make and model, and replace it with their plate and the expired tag.
"They don't even know that their plate was swamped out or even missing,” Wright said.
Until they are stopped by police.
Zimmer discovered the stolen tag before he drove his car.
He now has a new way to fight this crime and it cost him only $5.
These special screws mean thieves can't steal his tag again with a regular flathead screwdriver.
"I don't have to worry about it now,” Zimmer said.
For more information on how to replace license plates, click here.