PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you walk out to your car and no longer see license plates on your vehicle, state and law enforcement officials say there are some steps you need to take following the theft.

The Portland Police Bureau told KOIN 6 News victims must speak with a member of law enforcement in person since vehicle ownership has to be established. In other words, that the person reporting the theft has legal authority to do so because they are the owner.

This means the person would have to call the non-emergency line.

“It is definitely a good idea to report such instances (to the DMV) because someone using the stolen plate could be involved in a crash which might then point back to their vehicle,” said a spokesperson for PPB.

The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles echoed Portland police’s stance on reporting license plate theft to the proper authorities.

However, people will need to replace their plates through the DMV, which unfortunately has a cost, said Oregon DMV spokesperson David House.

“You never need to explain why you’re replacing plates when ordering from the DMV – people change plates all the time for many reasons,” House said.

He added, “And yes, the faster they file a report with law enforcement, the faster that plate is on their database and searchable from patrol cars – if someone were to put them on a car.”

You can click here to replace your license plates through the DMV.