Thieves Putting License Plates from Stolen Cars on the Vehicles of Unsuspecting Drivers

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SOLANO COUNTY --

Over the weekend, Solano County sheriff’s deputies pulled over what they thought was a woman driving a stolen vehicle.

"The plate came back to a stolen Honda Civic. Waited for additional units. Performed a high risk stop of the car," Solano County Sheriff's Deputy Christine Castillo said.

Turns out the car wasn’t stolen. Only the license plate. Someone had taken the plate off of her car and replaced it with one from a stolen car.

"If they had guns pointing at me, or came up aggressively, it would scare me so bad cause I am not a criminal," local resident Wanda Barkherst said.

It’s the latest trend among car thieves.

It’s something Solano County law enforcement say they’re seeing a lot more of. And they’re warning residents to be alert.

"If an officer were behind them, it would come back clear and there wouldn't be an issue," Castillo said.

The switching of license plates buys a suspect more time behind the wheel.

"It happens a few times a month for us. And those are just the ones we are able to contact and catch," Castillo added.

Drivers are shocked.

But would car owners typically know if they're plates were stolen?

"Truthfully, families have three, four cars. I don't think people would necessarily memorize all of their license plates," Alan Johnson said.

Officers suggest making it harder for a thief to steal a license plate in the first place, by securing it with all four screws.

Snap a photo of it or "just remember the last three numbers or the three letters," Castillo said.