Watch: Bradenton license plate thieves caught in the act

ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 7:10 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:10 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Bradenton Police Department are warning drivers to be mindful of their license plates.

This past weekend two men were caught on camera stealing a license plate from a Tesla in the Wheat + Water parking lot. The owner of the car, Carol Burdelik, said she was out to dinner with some friends when two men in a Dodge SUV. pulled up alongside the Tesla and went to work.

By using a power tool, the thieves were able to quickly remove the screws and take the license plate. Little did they know, the Tesla has eight exterior cameras which caught them in the act.

According to Det. Todd Freed, stealing license plates is actually a pretty common crime.

“Stealing license plates, it happens more than people actually know,” he said. “If they’re out there committing crimes and somebody does get a license plate number off of the vehicle, it may not come back to that vehicle and it may not come back the individuals in the car. So, it throws law enforcement a curve ball.”

That’s why he explains it’s extremely important to report your license plate being stolen as soon as you notice. By making them aware of the situation, they’re able to use technology to help find the platenappers.

“There’s cameras where people don’t even know. They alert law enforcement when a license plate has been flagged, has been stolen so they can hopefully apprehend those individuals.”

The two men are still at large. You’re encouraged to contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office if you recognize the men or have any further information.