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I see a few different symbols are now appearing on license plates. Little hands and hearts. How would the cops call in something like that if one of those cars was involved in a crime or stolen? "I'm in pursuit of a blue Nissan, license plate Whiskey, Bravo, little heart thing...."

-- A. Reader, Poway

California offers a ton of junk to put on your personalized plates. Hearts, hands, murals of sweeping coastal vistas, Olympic symbols, military medals...what's next, pictures of the grandkids? Your résumé? Anyway, the symbols aren't part of your official vehicle identification. For example, the hearts, hands, stars, and plus signs are on what's known as the California Kids Plates. You pay extra for them, and the surcharge goes into the state's Child Health and Safety Fund. Say you want to contribute to the fund, so you go to the DMV and request "BITE(star)ME." If someone's already driving around with a "BITEME" plate, you're out of luck. The symbols are just decoration, so the cops can ignore them. At most, they might call in, "California personalized, Baker, Ida, Tom, Edward, Mary, Edward." (They don't use the military "Whiskey, Bravo" system.)

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