Police say license plate thefts a huge problem in the city of Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee police say thefts of license plates and license registration stickers account for one in five thefts in the city of Milwaukee! This is a crime that has plagued people living in the city of Milwaukee for years, and there is a box of stolen license plates in every police station in Milwaukee.

"The city of Milwaukee has the vast majority of these thefts in the state. We average 4,400 a year," Milwaukee Police Captain Terrance Gordon said.

Captain Gordon says some thieves steal the entire license plate, while others simply peel off the registration sticker.

"Stickers can actually be sold to other people whose vehicles are not registered and then they feel they can drive with certain immunity," Captain Gordon said.

Depending on the year, stolen plates and stickers account for 20% to 25% of all thefts in Milwaukee, and police say the crime is likely under-reported.

"The Department of Motor Vehicles doesn't require a police report to get a replacement sticker," Captain Gordon said.

Some in the city have been victimized multiple times, like Johnny Young.

Young has made a small mark with a razor blade in his license plate sticker to deter thieves.

"That way they peel it off, they can't use it," Young said.

Joseph Hernes Jr. put a plastic cap on his plate, and says he has been approached by thieves selling stickers for $5 to $10 a piece.

"You go to different stores and they walk up to you and say, 'hey, want to buy a sticker?'" Joseph Hernes Jr. said.