Drivers already have to be on high alert for police when driving because of speed traps to avoid breaking the law or causing accidents. However, one woman had bigger issues to deal with when she noticed that a cop had been using her stolen license plate to rack up fines. Police left a disabled Colorado woman with approximately $1600 in fines after using the stolen license plate.
Why license plates are normally stolen
According to an article by Identity Theft Awareness, an individual may use a stolen plate for many things. All of them, however, are tied to protecting a criminal from police scrutiny. Put simply, people steal license plates to disguise their cars. The stolen plates are often used in crimes such as robberies and hit and run, thus turning innocent victims into crime suspects.
A woman was billed $1,600 in fines after a cop used her license plate
Recently, Debra Romero, a 52-year-old woman from Westminster, Colorado, started receiving emails notifying her that she had not been paying tolls. Going by reports by a Jalopnik article, she was astonished to discover that she had accumulated $1600 in toll charges because the president of the Colorado Fraternal Police used a stolen number plate registered under her name.
According to an article by The Gazette, the Longmont Police Sergeant, Sgt. Stephen Schulz mounted the stolen number plate on his undercover Chevrolet Silverado. Romero had previously sold the car under the registration plate in question. The plate was then stolen at some point after the sale. It was later recovered by the police and put aside as evidence. Schulz, astonishingly, decided to help himself to it.
Romero was barred from registering a new license plate number
The state barred Debra Romero from renewing the registration for the car, which had expired in May, until she pays the accrued fines in full. As it stands, she has no car to drive her around. Unfortunately, she was left at the mercy of her two children to take her to her doctors’ appointments as she considered undergoing her third back surgery.
“I have been walking,” Romero said. “I’m disabled. I have doctor follow-ups and physical therapy appointments, and the only way I can get to them is to have my kids available to take me because I can’t drive my car if I can’t get my registration renewed.”
Romero further explained to The Gazette, “It’s got me down to depression because I don’t know who to talk to or what to do. I reported it stolen, but they aren’t doing anything about it.” To everyone’s surprise, the police unit frustrated Romero and was adamant that she pay the fines, even though she was innocent of the incidents tied to the stolen license plate.
The state was afraid of negative press
Only after the story made the news, the state decided to cover the fines because they were allegedly embarrassed about the bad publicity. When contacted by The Gazette, Harold Dominguez, Longmont City Manager, promised to resolve the situation, which he cited as an oversight by the city officials.
Astonishingly, this was not the officer’s first rodeo. Another officer also accused Schulz of using homophobic slurs against officers who wore masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus (COVID-19). After a thorough investigation of Schulz’s narcotics department, the officer and three others were forced to go on administrative leave.
The narcotics unit was consequently dissolved after the investigations. Schulz currently investigates gang crime. When questioned, he refused to comment on the matter.
Considering the above case and many other similar ones, it is essential to check your plates constantly. Most criminals rely on people not checking the front and the backplate. It is, therefore, paramount to make sure that both plates are intact and secured.