By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)– Thieves are stealing license plates from cars and SUVs at an alarming pace, prompting the Denver Police Department to issue theft-resistant screws to drivers to try to thwart the plate thieves.

“These require a special tool to install and remove them so it makes them a lot harder,” said Denver Police Officer Robert Gibbs.

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(credit: CBS)

In Denver, plate thefts have gone from 2,304 in 2015 to 3,012 in 2017.

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(credit: CBS)

In Aurora, license plate thefts nearly doubled from 2015 to 2017 going from 618 to 1,147.

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(credit: CBS)

And in Lakewood, from 303 plate thefts in 2015 to nearly 500 in 2017.

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(credit: CBS)

“We’re experiencing an uptick in license plate thefts from vehicles,” said Gibbs.

He said criminals who steal cars typically want a different plate for the stolen car to thwart police, so they will steal a “clean” plate off another car. Gibbs also said the expense of registering a car and getting new plates can motivate people to steal plates.

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(credit: CBS)

He suggests obtaining the theft hardened screws and using those to frustrate criminals. He also suggested parking your car in a garage and if one is not available, parking in a well lit or heavily traveled area.

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(credit: CBS)

Maro Casparian, a consumer protection advocate with the Denver District Attorney’s Office, concurred that there has been an upswing in plate thefts. She said using “one way screws” makes it hard for criminals to remove plates.

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(credit: CBS)

Gibbs told CBS4 that the one way screws require a special tool to use. He said citizens can go to any Denver police station for assistance in installing or removing the special screws.

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(credit: CBS)

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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