Alberta’s government is making changes that aim to accelerate auto theft investigations and protect officers and the public.
On January 19th, the Alberta Government announced motorists must report lost or stolen license plates to police before requesting a replacement plate from registry agents.
“So, basically if your plate is lost or stolen, you would have to report it to the police before even stepping foot in the registry,” explained the manager at Gold Key Registry Susan Gosnell. “We no longer can do a plate exchange, replacement, renew or transfer your plate if it has been stolen without a police file number. “
Gosnell explained that the reason the Government decided to do this was so they could track license plates easier.
“Criminals will steal plates, put it on a stolen vehicle and then if they get in an accident, the police will go back to the previous owner of that plate. So, if they never reported it missing, the original owner would be liable.”
She continued to explain that the example she often uses to explain the change is if a person used a license plate for 10 years, and then sold their car and forgot to take the plate off, they would be liable if the new owner's plate was stolen and then the criminal gets in a fatal accident. If the new owner never registered the plate as stolen, it would come back to the original owner who sold the car.
While Gosnell sees why the new change is being made, she fears that it will take up valuable time from the RCMP. “We might have 10 lost or stolen plates a week come into the registry. Those 10 people have to go to the police, go get a report, before even coming to us. I just think that it is going to be way more work than the police needs.”
Gosnell said that this does not cause any more work for them at the registry, but she does want to get the word out so customers don’t wait in line all day only to find out they need a police report before they can even start the process.
“Right now, because of COVID-19, customers have to take a number and wait outside. They have to wait for 10 – 15 minutes in the cold freezing, and when they come in and find out we can’t do anything. That is so frustrating.”
She urged those who have questions to contact Gold Key Registries or the Strathmore RCMP before they head out.