Thieves simplify tag decal thefts

OKEECHOBEE — Call it ingenious. Call it lazy. But no matter the adjective, it’s effective.

Reports from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) detail a new way thieves are stealing the decal from license tags — they are cutting off the corner of the tag.

Simple.

No more spending precious minutes trying to remove that sticky sticker without tearing it. And, no more stealing the entire license tag just to get the decal.

All that’s needed is a pair of tin snips and as quickly as one can say “badda bing,” the thief has his decal and is moving on to his next target.

Thieves hit at least two vehicles last week ad made off with the tag decals.

OCSO Deputy Devon Satallante spoke Thursday, May 4, with a 71-year-old Kenansville woman whose vehicle was victimized while she was shopping Wednesday at Tractor Supply, 3371 U.S. 441 S.

She told the deputy she parked her vehicle around 5 p.m. on May 3. Then, as she was preparing to leave later, she noticed the corner off her license tag was missing. Also missing was the tag decal.

“(She) said the license tag was intact when she went into the store,” stated the deputy’s report.

Later Thursday morning, Deputy Satallante spoke to a 64-year-old Okeechobee man who filed a similar complaint.

He had parked his pickup up truck in The Home Depot parking lot, 2700 U.S. 441 S., around 7 a.m. and went for a bicycle ride. When he returned, he noticed the decal on his license tag had been cut off.

The difference is this victim didn’t know if the theft was committed during the nighttime hours when his truck was parked at his home, or if it was done while the vehicle was parked in front of the home improvement store.

Okeechobee County tax collector Celeste Watford said if this happens to you, call law enforcement.

“If the decal is cut off, get a police report and a case number and the tag and decal can be replaced for free,” she said.

Without a report or case number, the cost to replace the tag and decal is $34.60.

Apparently these two incidents have been the only ones of this nature reported.

OCSO public information officer Michele Bell said Tuesday, May 9, her agency has not responded to any similar complaints since last week.

Detective Bill Saum, of the Okeechobee City Police Department, said his agency has yet to receive such a complaint.

Routinely check you license tag and if the decal is missing, call law enforcement immediately. If you’re in the county, call the sheriff’s office at 863-763-3117. If you’re in the city, contact the police department by calling 863-763-2626.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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