A MYSTERIOUS crime wave sweeping the capital has left police baffled.
Number plates are being stolen from cars across Cardiff – but not used in any later offences.
Detectives are used to thieves swiping registrations marks from vehicles then putting them on cars subsequently used in “make offs” from petrol stations – where drivers fill up and flee without paying.
But police cannot find any evidence the latest thefts are linked to other crimes.
Chief Inspector Alun Morgan said today: “It’s bizarre.”
He said officers investigated whether the number plates were being taken by students as trophies from nights out, similar to traffic cones.
But that line of inquiry proved negative, as did a rumour that skateboarders were reinforcing the underneath of their boards with stolen plates.
He said: “There was a rumour – a real big urban myth – that number plates were being stolen and fitted to the bottom of skateboards so that when skateboarders jump on public footpaths, chairs and railings and slide down, these plates would afford them some protection.
“But it’s absolute rubbish.”
Chief Insp Morgan said there was no clear motive for the thefts, with no particular makes or models targeted and the problem affecting all areas of the city.
Police have now started clinics where motorists can get special screws inserted in their number plates, making them more difficult to prise away.
Chief Insp Morgan, who is based at Fairwater police station and is the officer responsible for tackling car crime in Cardiff, appealed for the public to help find the reasons behind the strange spate of thefts.
He said: “It’s not nice for people when they wake up in the morning. The consequence is that decent, innocent people have to go out and buy new ones,” said Chief Insp Morgan. “There’s a gap in our knowledge and I’m curious as to what is the attraction of these registration plates.