Victor’s Car Plate was Stolen

After Victor’s dog was stolen and killed, and after his bicycle was stolen months ago,and his wallet, he also lost his car plate today.

How the Plate was Stolen

You know car plate, right? Every car has a plate. It is attached to the car, and can be easily detached. So, there is a business here in Shanghai to steal people’s car plate, and blackmail the owner. Victor is the victim of this car plate stealing case.

This morning, when he went to his car, and he found both plates at rear or head of his car was gone. Someone just removed the plates. It was not a big surprise for people in Shanghai anyway. The thief usually would leave a note at the window with contact information (typically a mobile phone) and instruction to the owner about how to get the plate back. The routine is, you call the phone number, and the other side gives you a bank account number. You deposit the money, and they will send a short message to you about the location of the plates.

Victor didn’t find any “instruction” – bad customer service of this professional thief, I would say. So he went to the police office to report the case. There are other people in the line to report similar cases. So he checked around and found other people has the instruction. He took a look and then called the phone.

Conversation with the Thief

The conversation was interesting. The thief answered phone quickly – I hope all customer service center answer the phone as this guy. Victor asked whether he took the car plate. Victor told him the number, and the thief checked, and be back and said: Yes, we have that plate.

The interesting thing is, the thief even complained that they typically only took car plate from outside Shanghai, since they can blackmail for higher price. For example, if they get a Beijing plate from a car in Shanghai, they can charge for several hundreds or more to the owner, since according to the current regulation, the owner has to drive 1000 miles single-way to Beijing to get a new one, and it took about 2000 RMB for round trip, and almost 3 days. Most car owners will pay the money to get their plate back. For Shanghai plate, however, the owner only need to spend one day and 200 RMB to get new plate. So the “value” is not very high for the thieves.

Anyway, the thief complained and asked Victor whether he wants to pay 300 RMB. Victor said no. Then he asked whether 200 RMB is OK. Victor said absolutely no. Then the guy hang up. Later, he called back and said he is OK to return it at 100 RMB. They didn’t make the deal.

The Police

Victor gets back to report the case to the policeman. The fact is simple – many people report the owner of the same mobile phone number stole their car plates, and blackmail them. The more important thing is, the phone is accessible, and there are many deals happening. It should be pretty easy to catch that bad guy.

The reality is, not surprising for me at all, the policeman just recorded the case, and said, Victor can pay and get a new plate now. He also told Victor don’t worry since even if he reports his car was stolen, that is all he can do – just to record it on the book.

Well. It is the same thing as the last time I reported the completely drunk driver scratched my car. In that case, the drunk driver’s car was there, my car was there, and I know they went to the building, but the policeman said there is nothing they can do and disappeared very soon.


OK. Another story about how the real life in China is like.

P.S. This is Victor’s blog about this event.

14 thoughts on “Victor’s Car Plate was Stolen

  1. Poor Victor!

    Hope you have less problems in the upcoming year!

    Best regards to everyone in this holiday season!

    Thanks as always, JS for letting us know about life in China!

  2. Good for you Victor. If more people like you do not pay the black mail, they will go out of business.

    What’s the deal with the police? They are worse than Chief Wiggum.

  3. hahaha great story wangjianshou. Ik lived in SH for 5 months, been back in the Netherlands for 3 months now. I found Chinese life very interesting and these kind of stories are great (if you are not involved personally).

    Another story: I once saw some Chinese people selling small magnets for 10 RMB on People Square, near Nanjing Xi Lu. They were very popular, because you could put them onto the water meter and the meter would no longer function. I guess it saves money to pay the water company. Of course police officials did nothing. Have you heard of this before?

  4. @ILH, when thieves steal poor guys, everyone hates them. When they steal the rich guys, especially people who have cars, the reaction is not so predictable. It is mixed feeling for many. The gap in public wealth is becoming a big social issue now.

  5. I’ll keep this short and sweet, or at least I’ll try.

    This is just another of the social problems China has to face. The society cannot advance when even the police force, which is instrumental in maintaining law and order, is corrupt. This is already evident in many 3rd world countries.

    Singapore seems to have solved this problem by adopting safeguards and paying well, but again, it is a small nation of 4.5 million people. It remains to be seen how China will look for a unique solution that is applicable to a large nation of 1.3 billion people, and whether it will find a solution at all.

    I wish them all the best.

  6. Mr. Wang, there is a problem in your cgi script for comment posting. That’s why everyone’s posting multiples.

  7. @Давид, that is because of the slow response from the server. I said: “It may take up to 30 seconds before the server returns a result”. I do mean it. Pressing twice or more time will result in the problem.

  8. Another story about how effective the police is in China…

    Another story:

    Guys put on ebay very cheap computer, when you go to the place to pay in cash there is nobody, and they ask you to send the money to a bank account from the bank next to the place they ask you to meet them.

    and of course, if you are stupid enough to send the money, you never get the computer.

    When i was looking for a computer 2 years ago it happen to me 3 times… 3 times make me loose my time, even when before going to the meeting point I told them that I know this trick, that I was not going to pay by bank transfer, that I want to test the computer first… but chinese reply: “没有问题 = no problem” and then when I arrive at the place I see a bank and they ask me to send money… Really annoying.


  9. 886,

    you can buy computer at xujiahui computer city (美罗城).you can’t buy the computer from internet.


  10. this is called “day-time-robbery”. The stealer just do anything freely, and the police are all ‘dead’!

    this is so injustice!

  11. Is there like no way to lock the plate with the trunk of the car or somewhere it can’t be removed?

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