Thief blackmails owners for return of stolen license plates

Police nab plate stealing bandit by posing as a victim and arranging to meet at a rendezvous point around midnight.
Ti Gong

The suspect identifies the place where he allegedly steals car plates on July 27. 

A suspect has been detained for blackmailing car owners after stealing their car plates, police said on Thursday.

A few thefts of car plates were reported in downtown Shanghai near the Jiangsu Road Metro station in Changning District in late July.

Following the thefts, a paper note was left on each windscreen demanding 100 yuan (US$16) from the car owners if they wanted their plates back. The contact was a QQ and WeChat number.

Ti Gong

A blackmail note left by the suspect. 

All of the stolen plates were non-Shanghai plates, which would require the car owners to travel out of town to reapply.

The thief was seen on a surveillance camera pulling off a car plate with his bare hands. He seemed to be aware of the position of security cameras, carefully avoiding them and making it harder for police to track him down.

Meanwhile, car owners who lost their car plates were anxious.

“I didn’t want to pay the money because that would encourage him to do the same to others, but I would have had to spend at least 1,000 yuan to get a new plate in Fujian Province,” said one victim, a man surnamed Zhang.

To entrap the suspect, police asked Zhang to add him on WeChat before paying the money and asking the thief to drop the plate at a certain location.

Police nabbed the suspect, a 24-year-old man surnamed Lin, at midnight.

Lin has stolen at least four plates and made 400 yuan, police said.

Ti Gong

The suspect identifies the place where he allegedly hides stolen car plates on July 27.

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