GASTONIA, N.C. — License plate thieves continue to cause problems for unsuspecting drivers after Gastonia Police report three thefts in a two-day span last week.

Robin Pearce is one of the latest victims. She said her husband noticed her missing tags while taking her car to the store.

"I honestly don't know where it happened or when it happened or why they picked me," she said. "I honestly didn't realize there were more victims out there."

Gastonia Police reported seeing a 23 percent spike in stolen license plates   from 2017 to 2018, while in the first two months of 2019, officers reported a 43 percent drop from the same time last year.

License plate theft is listed as a misdemeanor, but it has played a role in more violent crimes.

Last year, wanted murder suspect Jonathan Bennett ambushed a group of CMPD officers right outside police headquarters.

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He shot one officer in the leg before other officers shot and killed him.

Investigators said Bennett switched out his New York license plates with stolen tags, which allowed him to sneak past the city's license plate readers.

After having her license plate stolen, Pearce warns other drivers check their tags.

"It changes your life," she said. "It's not something you think about."

Gastonia Police advise people who had their license plates stolen to call their local law enforcement agency immediately.