Alberta’s government is making changes to accelerate auto theft investigations and protect officers and the public.
Effective Jan. 19, Alberta motorists must report lost or stolen licence plates to police before requesting a replacement plate from registry agents. Early reporting of lost or stolen plates allows police to be on alert for licence plates that may be used for illegal purposes.
A lost or stolen licence plate is not just frustrating for the owner, it can create larger problems if it is used in criminal activity. One of those risks is to the safety of law enforcement officers who benefit from having the most accurate, up-to-date information when conducting roadside stops.
“Requiring a police report for a lost or stolen licence plate is a common-sense change to make. In doing so, we are ensuring police have accurate information that can better help them when interacting with motorists and is crucial for an investigation,” Nate Glubish, Minister of Service Alberta said.
The change was successfully piloted at 12 registry agent offices across Alberta in 2021. It comes at the recommendation of the Provincial Auto Theft Review Committee, a subcommittee of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, designed to address auto theft in Alberta. The committee has representation from government ministries and law enforcement.
“It is common practice for criminals to disguise their stolen vehicles by attaching an unreported stolen plate associated to a vehicle of a similar make and model,” Mark Neufeld President of the Association of Alberta Chiefs of Police said. “This tactic allows auto thieves to engage in high-risk criminal activities undetected. This includes dangerous driving, hit-and-run collisions, robberies and break and enters. Mandatory reporting of lost and stolen licence plates will go a long way to making life more difficult for thieves and help keep Albertans safe.”
When motorists go to a registry office to request a replacement for their lost or stolen plate, they will be required to present a police file number. Albertans can file a report at their local police station or over the phone, and many police services provide the ability to file a report online. If the police have not been notified before a request for a replacement plate is made, Albertans can call directly from the registry office at the time of service.
“Alberta’s registry agents are proud to collaborate with government and law enforcement to enact changes that will support police in protecting Albertans and investigating stolen property. Your local registry agent will be happy to help you replace a lost or stolen licence plate,” Rikki McBride, chief executive officer, Association of Alberta Registry Agents said.
In 2020, registry agents issued 46,307 replacement licence plates for Albertans whose previous plates were lost or stolen.
- 30,687 of the plates were noted as lost
- 15,620 of the plates were noted as stolen
“A lost or stolen licence plate impacts the safety of Albertans and our communities,” Joel Ruff, chief operating officer, Alberta Motor Association said. “At AMA, we’ve always advocated for safe communities, so we’re proud to support this change and help our members quickly get back to normal and live their lives with confidence.”
The change does not apply to personalized licence plates, which are issued in pairs. Reporting a lost or stolen personalized plate requires the Albertan to return the other plate, rendering the plate configuration unusable.