Woman ticketed after license plate stolen, put on another car

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 10:05 PM MST
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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - Thieves in San Francisco are targeting license plates, taking them from one car and putting them on another. The crime leaves the victims with parking citations for cars that aren’t theirs.

Katie Lyons recently found her car without a front license plate. She believes someone unscrewed and stole it from right in front of her home in the Marina, a San Francisco neighborhood.

“I realized I was getting parking tickets because I got a ticket on my car and went to pay it, and I saw four tickets that I did not get,” Lyons said.

Someone apparently stuck Lyons’ license plate on a similar white Audi, and that car received multiple street cleaning and expired meter citations in the Nob Hill neighborhood in the last week. She saw the additional tickets when she entered her license plate number online.

Lyons filed a police report. She now has to contest the parking tickets, get new plates at the Department of Motor Vehicles and get a new street parking sticker from the city.

“It’s a sense of violation that you can’t even park your car in front of your house without your license plate being stolen,” she said. “That’s actually what I first thought when I saw my license plate stolen was that my license plate is now going to be used for a crime and they’re going to come looking for me.”

Through the Nextdoor app, Lyons found out she wasn’t the only one in the community that had her license plate stolen. A neighbor recently wrote that his rear plate was stolen and replaced with another one. His original plate was put on a car almost identical to his, and that car is now getting parking tickets.

“I... don’t think we should get numb to this. This type of behavior and lawlessness is not OK,” Lyons said. “I understand we live in a city and things happen in a city, but we’ve crossed a line.”

Car break-ins are a huge problem in San Francisco, and residents now say they will have to check their license plates in addition to making sure nothing is left in their vehicles.

“It makes me not really want to park my car out on the streets anymore,” said Marina resident Gabby Chen.

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