Always Score Your License Plate Sticker with a Razor — Here’s Why

Updated: Jan. 29, 2024

This trick could prevent thieves from taking your tags.

License plate stickers are expensive, and thieves know it. Depending on which state you live in, new license plate tags can cost hundreds of dollars to replace, not to mention the annoyance of going back to the DMV and standing in line for new ones.

Thankfully, there’s a trick that will help keep your vehicle tags safe from thieves.

First, remove any old stickers from your license plate. Do not stack new stickers on top of the existing one — this method will not work otherwise.

After that, thoroughly clean the area so there’s no excess adhesive left on the plate. Next, place the new sticker on the plate and smooth out any air bubbles. Finally, use a box cutter or other sharp tool to cut an X pattern on the sticker. Other patterns will work as well, but this is the most effective.

collage of four photos showing the process of Changing And Scoring License Plate Tag StickerFamily Handyman

By “scoring” the sticker, the tag will be more difficult to rip off. Instead it will tear into multiple pieces, rendering it unusable. This trick won’t keep thieves from removing the sticker. But if they do, they can’t use it on their vehicle. That alone might be enough of a deterrent to keep your sticker safe.

Another safety measure to consider: Security screws, which prevent thieves from stealing your entire license plate. The screws come with a special wrench that make them more difficult to remove.

Next, read about the best way to clean your license plate.