Police have issued a warning to motorists after a spate of number plate thefts in south Leicestershire.
Almost 80 plates have been stolen in less than three months and officers believe they are being used by petrol thieves to avoid detection.
Since the start of April thefts have been reported in Blaby, Harborough, Hinckley, Bosworth, Oadby and Wigston.
Thieves attach the stolen plates to their own vehicle so they can drive off without paying.
Sgt Phil Tebbs said: "This has become an increasing problem in recent months and now makes up the majority of thefts from vehicles.
"We believe most of them are being used by people who are trying to avoid paying for fuel - they are committing one theft to help them commit another.
"I would appeal to anyone who sees someone interfering with a car to call us straight away."