Car Tab Theft

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  KatieK 4 years, 10 months ago.

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    While parked in Westwood Village, my car tabs were stolen… In the process of replacing my tabs (which costs $9.25) I got some good advice I thought I would pass on:

    After you apply your tabs, take an exacto knife or blade and score the tab. Although the thief can still pick the tab off, it will take much longer and the tab will likely be destroyed in the process.

    Also, I found out that we are required to call the non-emergency police number to create a case if tabs are stolen. I found this out from the police man that pulled me over for not having tabs. Non Emergency Number is: 206-625-5011

    I hope this helps someone!

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    Wow, thanks KatieK. It always seemed to me like those would be really hard to remove…but I guess a determined thief could do it!



    Katie — this happened to my husband, too this summer, he doesn’t know where or when they were stolen but he had to pay the original fee to get new ones I think in the $90.00 range… wonder what was different about your situation that it was only $9.25. He wasn’t told to report it either.



    Datamuse: You know the economy is bad when… :)

    Jissy: I ended up electing to renew my tabs because I was within the timeframe- this got me out of the $9.25 replacement fee and I just paid the $120 to renew. It could be that your husband was in the same boat. I have to admit that it makes me feel good that your husband wasn’t told to report it as the police man treated me like an idiot for not knowing. (My mechanic had told me not to worry about it. When the police man pulled me over he gave me the whole sarcastic “didn’t you think that it would be a good idea to call us instead of talk to your MECHANIC?”)



    Jeez. What a helpful officer. I wouldn’t have thought to report it either, Katie. Thanks for the tip with scoring the tabs.



    Another tip – remove your old car tab(s)!!!!

    I have seen MANY times a THICK stack of tabs on cars. It makes for easy pickins for thieves when you fail to remove the old tabs.

    When I worked at the DOL, we preached this OVER AND OVER to people who came in for replacement tabs. Many of them had never given it a second thought to just put new tabs on the old ones.

    Doing the easy thing can be costly!!!



    thanks for the tips KatieK and MissBeth; I’ve thought about the possibility every time I stick the tab on, then totally forget; so also would never know unless stopped by an officer


    just added non-emergency # to my phone; interesting tip to score the new tab; will have to wait til next renewal for MissBeth’s tip, as I am one of those with the stack of tabs; how the heck do you get them off? I usually start fresh when the state makes us pay more money for new plates, what is it, every 7 yrs? I see no reason for that requirement except a way for the state to make more money; does anyone know if there’s a legitimate/common sense reason for making us buy new plates? and no warning that it’s coming; I’ve talked to so many people who’ve asked, why did I have to buy new plates this year? and that’s on top of new tab fees for buses, $20 more from city council this year, $20 more from county council next year


    certainly good to hear it’s only $9 to replace stolen tab



    MissBeth — thanks for the info — I haven’t ever heard that piece of advice and they did indeed take the whole stack off my husband’s truck — sure that was easier than try to get the top, 2012 one off the whole stack.


    The Velvet Bulldog

    I took the stack o’ tabs off the license plate this year. Easily done with an X-acto knife–just watch your fingers!



    a thin-bladed paint scraper or razor blade scraper works well to remove the stack of old stickers.

    here’s the DOL webpage on replacing lost/stolen stickers; if you follow the links, replacement cost depends on whether your tabs expire in the next six months. If not, it’s a $4.25 replacement fee plus $5 if you go to a subagent.

    And, here’s why the State Patrol requested a law to require plates be replaced every 7 years:

    “We require new plates every 7 years because the reflective coating on the plates wears out. This coating is important because it helps you and law enforcement to identify vehicles in poor weather. Proper care of plates won’t prevent this coating from breaking down over time.”

    It costs $27.75 to replace the 2 plates, which is a whopping $4 per year (rounded up slightly.)

    I don’t believe the city passed a $20 fee as the voters voted down the proposed $60 increase; the county council, however, did approve a two-year, $20 increase to finance ‘congestion reduction’. This ordinance also discontinues the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle in October 2012.



    an update to post 10:

    the ‘Seattle Transportation Benefit District’ (essentially the Seattle City Council) did approve a $20 licence fee increase on Oct 25, 2010, with implementation beginning on May 1, 2011: (click on ‘Legislation and Policies of STBD’ and then on ‘Res 1’ to see the Resolution.)

    The state authorized TBD’s in response to Tim Eyman’s revenue-cutting initiatives. Under state law, “A TBD is a quasi-municipal corporation and independent taxing district created for the sole purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements within the district.”



    thanks for all the info metrognome



    Yes, great info!!! The idea of reducing opportunity for successful theft makes me happy!

    Metrognome: Thank you for the information! FYI: I went to the DOL on California- they charge the 9.25 for replacement tabs.



    Mine got stolen too, but I didn’t realize it until I renewed, so no extra fee.



    de nada. The one other add-on that I forgot is the voter-approved Sound Transit Motor Vehicle Excise Tax of 0.3 percent. It is calculated similarly to the old pre-I-695 MVET:

    “For Sound Transit tax purposes, the Department of Licensing uses the first published base Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a vehicle, except for commercial trucks and trailers. The tax on these types of vehicles is calculated based on the latest purchase price and year. It is also determined by applying a depreciation formula for the vehicle’s current age.”

    I really encourage people to spend more time on government websites — they are usually very user friendly and offer a wealth of information. For example, I just signed up for e-mail reminders on tab renewals (just remember to update if you change your e-mail address.)

    I also discovered that DOL has a ‘licence tab fee calculator’ that will list all the pertinent fees for your car (all you need is your license number and last name or business name.) I ran mine, which don’t expire until March, so it gave me this year’s fees, not my 2012 fees (it’s a ’91, so the RTA tax is as low as it goes; next year, they may owe me money…):

    “It will cost $52.75 to renew your tabs. You may print this page for your records.


    – Filing fee (Funds go to the county in which the fee is paid.): $3.00

    – RTA tax (Funds go to your Regional Transit Authority. For details call: (877) 755-4550.): $4.00

    – License fee (Funds construction and maintenance projects.): $30.00

    – Weight base fee (Funds highway improvements, transit and other transportation needs.): $10.00

    – License service fee (Supports the computer system used to provide licensing services.): $0.75

    – State Parks Account donation (Supports Washington State Parks.): $5.00

    Total $52.75″

    Presumably, the 2012 tabs will include the $20 for the city and another $20 for the county for a total of $92.75.

    Rather than post a direct link, I’ll let y’all use a link from my earlier posts so you can have the fun of exploring the DOL site.



    my June 2011 tabs included $20 city fee already


    next June will add another $20 county fee


    remember too that the $5 parks fee is optional; it’s included by default; you need to opt out to not pay; and just learned recently that at least one person thought that paying the $5 fee gave him access to state parks that folks now have to pay to get a pass; he didn’t realize this is a voluntary donation



    Diane — good point about the Parks ‘donation’; I think the state is being a little slick by not being more specific that the ‘donation’ is voluntary and that it doesn’t give you free access to state parks (I realize ‘donation’ should signify it is voluntary but in this context, when it is tacked on to a list of non-voluntary fees, it should be clearer.) Next time I’m on the DOL website, I will send them that feedback.

    I think the county fee, like the city fee, didn’t go into effect for 6 mos after the ordinance was approved, so you just missed paying it this year.



    You might consider getting the clear plexiglass/plastic cover(s) for your plates. I have them on the front and back – it helps keep the plates from getting all dirty and dinged up – and would be a deterent to someone swiping tabs. I don’t think they’ll stop to unscrew the cover unless they are really desperate. All auto supply places have them, at different price points.

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