GASTONIA, N.C. -- The Gastonia Police Department is warning drivers to check their cars' license plates after reports of thieves stealing them in the past year.

One of the most recent thefts happened Friday in the parking lot of the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services' headquarters.

A DHHS employee called 911 after finding her personal car's plates were missing.

"I have had my license plate stolen off my car," the employee said in the 911 call.

Investigators said criminals steal license plates to place them on their getaway cars, which makes it more difficult for police to track them down.

According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, Jonathan Bennett did that in January before a near-deadly ambush outside police headquarters.

Bennett was the subject of an intense manhunt after investigators said he killed his girlfriend and kidnapped their infant daughter.

Police said Bennett switched out his New York license plates, which officers believe allowed him to sneak past the city's plate readers and ambush officers right outside the Law Enforcement Center.

CMPD said Bennett shot Officer Casey Shue in the leg before other officers fired back and killed him.

Officer Shue survived and was released from the hospital.

Police recommend drivers check their plates often and immediately call officers if their plates are missing.