Ms Cat, Day Zei, Harmons, Hot Brd and Gravity. If you ordered any of these personalized message license plates, they're waiting for you to pick them up at the Lancaster County DMV office.

Seven thousand sets of license plates — that’s close to 14,000 individual plates — fill about a dozen file cabinet drawers at the Lancaster County Treasurer’s office, forgotten by their purchasers.

These are plates ordered, paid for and shipped to the county DMV office for people to pick up.

But no one has come in to get them.

There are thousands of message plates — Bg Red, Renge, La Luna — to name a few. There are hundreds of cougar and Husker specialty plates. A few handicapped plates and even a Gold Star family plate.

These plates were ordered last year, when the state required vehicle owners to get new plates, not just new stickers. That happens once every six years.

Treasurer Andy Stebbing would like to see the plates in the hands of the folks who paid for them, not sitting in the back room of the office at 625 N. 46th St. 

“We hope this jogs someone’s memory,” Stebbing said about the publicity regarding the 7,000 sets of forgotten plates. “We’d like to get these cleaned out.”

Notifying every individual plate owner would cost an estimated $25,000 for the research to determine the owner and address and to send out a letter, Stebbing said.

Last year, the county office handled about 322,000 vehicle registrations, said Don Arp, motor vehicle manager for the treasurer’s office.

The forgotten sets of plates are about one-fifth of the 38,000 message and specialty plates ordered by Lancaster County residents last year.

People order the plates from the state and pay for them. The plates are shipped to the county office and the vehicle owner gets a letter from the state saying their plates are available at the county DMV office, explained Arp.

Stebbing and Arp speculate that perhaps people forget they ordered the plates. And when their renewal notice came, they simply renewed by mail.

Or perhaps they think the specialty or message plates will be mailed to them.

But they won’t be. They're sitting in a cabinet at the county DMV office.

People have to go to the office to get the specialty or message plate, Arp explained.

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The county office always has a few forgotten specialty or message plates, but not anywhere near the current 7,000 sets.

Last year was a plate-renewal year. Plus, there are more specialty plates than ever — 26 total. And many more people are ordering specialty plates. “They’re popular,” Arp said.

He suggests that if you've ordered a plate but not picked it up, wait until the month before your plate renewal date. Then the plate costs nothing extra.

If you pick up the specialty or message plate outside of this window, you must pay $12.10 for the plate transfer and new registration, Arp said.

So if your plate expires in July, you can go in and get the specialty plate in June without paying anything extra.

If you've ordered a message plate and don’t want it, Arp suggests you go in and fill out a relinquishment form. Then someone else can use that message, he said.

And Stebbing is hopeful some extra publicity will stir memories. “Even if we got rid of 1,000 of those plates, that would be huge,” he said.

The treasurer’s office will keep the plates for several years before sending them off to be recycled, Arp said.

If you have questions about the specialty and message plates, call the Lancaster County Treasurer’s office at 402-441-7497.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.



Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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