The in basket: One of the Seattle TV stations ran a weird story
last week about a woman who had had her vehicle registration stolen
from her glove box in a car prowl, leaving her fearful of ID theft
and home invasion.
The report suggested taking your registration with you when
parking in public. I don’t recall if that recommendation was
attributed to any agency. An alternative would be to put it in the
If I followed the suggestion, I’d be applying for a new
registration every month or so because I’d lose the one I’d taken
from its relatively safe location in my glove box.
I asked my police sources if this is really a concern and about
the most likely reaction by a police officer told by a stopped
driver that his registration was in the trunk. And I asked the
Department of Licensing if they charge for a replacement
The out basket: None thought it to be much of a threat.
Benfield of the Department of Licensing said, “This is an
issue that came up a couple years ago, but I don’t get the sense
that it’s a widespread problem or any more concerning than mail
theft or other types of potential ID crime.”
Thieves had broken into cars at a movie
theater and taken the registration and garage door opener, he
recalled. “That way they would have the home address, a key, and
knowledge the owners wouldn’t be home for at least an hour,” he
“From a document standpoint, a
registration certificate just has a name and address on it – no
driver license number or Social Security number. I don’t think it
would be a highly valuable document for ID fraud purposes.”
And yes, they charge $5 for a
replacement registration plus $5 more if at a subagent office.
Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County
Sheriff’s Office said storing one’s registration in the trunk is
not a recommended action.
“Should a driver advise an officer that
the document is in the trunk it will, most likely, result in a
request by the officer for a second unit to respond to the location
as a back-up, unless the patrol vehicle is a two-officer unit.
“Law enforcement officers aren’t real
keen on vehicle occupants rummaging around inside of a car or
wanting to gain access to the vehicle’s trunk.
“Performing these actions probably would
lengthen the time of the vehicle traffic stop,” he said.
Trooper Russ Winger added, “We can’t have motorists getting
in and out of vehicles on a regular basis. It’s dangerous
traffic-wise and also for officer safety.
“In rare cases, we can run a DOL check
and get the information we require. But we need to have that
registration produced by the driver as a routine procedure.
“I personally doubt that the criminal
activity you are talking about is a common problem, although I have
heard the instance of the garage door opener theft. But that was
“If you weigh the risks involved, I
think driver and officer safety is far more important.
papers in your car, not the trunk though. You can also fold it up
and keep it in your wallet or purse if it is that concerning
to you. Most insurance companies provide wallet size ID cards or
can, if requested.”
Scott also noted that using a post
office box number for your registration address, if you have one,
would frustrate such a crime.