China: Around The Nation

Your number’s up! Chinese police arrest suspect caught on camera after theft of 13 car number plates

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 2:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 2:16pm

A Chinese man was arrested by police for allegedly stealing car number plates and then returning them only after receiving payment from the owners, mainland media reports.

The suspect, surnamed Zhang, was reportedly caught after being filmed by roadside surveillance cameras, Chongqing Evening News reported.

Zhang, 28, worked as the manager of a bar in Chongqing, earning about 10,000 yuan per month – a large sum in the city where the average private-sector income was 3,684 per month, the report said.

He reportedly started stealing number plates after receiving a 100 yuan “thank you” fee from a motorist visiting the city after taking and then returning his number plate.

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The bar manager had pulled off the plate he spotted “dangling from a car and almost falling down” and then left his contact number on the vehicle for the owner to find, the report said.

He started stealing other number plates from cars registered outside the city and then leaving his WeChat contact number on the windscreen of the vehicles.

Zhang would then ask the owners to transfer money to him online in return for revealing where he had hidden their number plate.

Local police received a series of reports from motorists following the theft of their car number plates on October 29, the report said.

Police spotted Zhang stealing number plates on surveillance camera footage and arrested him.

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Zhang admitted that he had received a total of 450 yuan from 13 different car owners after stealing and hiding their car number plates, the report said.

Police were quoted in the report as saying that it was not difficult for motorists to obtain a new number plate. Owners needed only to bring their identification card to the vehicle administration office where the plates were registered and they could receive a placement within three days.

If the number plate of a car registered outside the city was stolen, owners should report the matter to local police so that would have an official document to show to traffic police if they were stopped later on their journey, and also use to obtain a replacement plate.