Last Friday, Anchorage resident Linda Klinkhart used her automatic ignition starter to find her car in a midtown parking lot. Klinkhart said she could see lights flashing on a vehicle, but as she got closer she wondered why it had different license plates.

"Am I opening up someone else's car? No, that's my car but not my plates," said Klinkhart.

Klinkhart called police and was told them the plates on her Honda CRV matched plates on another CRV that had been stolen. Police Spokeswoman Renee Oistad said it's the type of crime that is happening "quite often" in Anchorage.

"We've seen the theft of one plate. We've seen the theft of both plates. We've also seen the theft of plates and then other stolen plates are put in their place," said Oistad.

Oistad said your best defense against stolen plates is to check yours regularly.

"Once a day, just get in the habit to check both the front and the back of your vehicle," she said. "Make sure that both of the plates that belong on the vehicle are on the vehicle."

That's something Linda Klinkhart said she never used to do. In fact, she has no idea how long she was driving around with plates from a stolen car. Klinkhart said what really concerned her was hearing what police would do if they pulled her over.

"It's a felony stop if they think you are in a stolen vehicle; they'll come out with their guns drawn," said Klinkhart.

Oistad confirmed that.

"If we do have to pull over a vehicle that we believe is stolen, we are going to have resources in place, and yes, guns are drawn," said Oistad. "It's to make sure that we can take everyone into custody safely and that our officers are prepared to deal with any deadly force that may be used against them."

Oistad said people who find plates missing or replaced with new ones should call police on the non-emergency 311 number, report it and get a case number. After that, they need to go to the DMV and get new plates.

That's what Linda Klinkhart did. She said she'll be keeping a close eye on them from now on.

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