JEFFERSON CITY - A little-known pilot project from 2009 offering secure renewal tabs for license plates has helped reduce the number of tabs stolen in Missouri, though most drivers are not taking advantage of the program.
License plate tabs are the small stickers Missouri drivers are required to place in the middle of their license plates upon renewal. Most tabs show the last two digits of the year in which they expire--for example, "13" for 2013. Thieves could take those tabs from current plates and use them on expired plates, giving the impression the expired plates were still good. The Missouri Department of Revenue's (DOR) project created a different tab with the license plate number and letter combination, making them impossible to use on other plates.
"We just encourage people to do whatever they can to keep the individuals from stealing them," said Sgt. Paul Reinsch of Missouri State Highway Patrol. "Commonly, this occurs usually in cities or parking lots where they leave their vehicles for a long period of time--maybe an airport parking lot or even a commuter parking lot where they park to go to work."
Around 15 percent of tabs issued have been the secure tabs. Ted Farnen, the director of communications for the DOR, said since the pilot program began, 1,787,069 secure tabs have been provided.
Farnen says anyone can renew license plates online and get the secure tabs that way, but some plates are unable to receive the secure tabs due to personalization.
"Not everyone who renews their license plate tabs can do it online," Farnen said. "For example, there are certain plates, like the Mizzou collegiate plates, we don't have the ability to check online yet if you have paid your fee to the University of Missouri alumni association. So if you have a Mizzou plate, you can't renew your plates online."
The secure tabs are currently available in 14 of the 182 offices across the state. In addition, they do not cost any extra money to the consumer.
"The reason that we don't offer it in more offices is that there is a cost on our end when we implement this at a license office," Farnen said. "There are some costs associated with it that make it more expensive on our end so that's why we don't have it at all 182 offices across the state."
The tabs are available at offices in Jefferson City, Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis, or when renewing online. For more information on how to obtain these secure tabs, visit the DOR's website.