US continues to see an increase of violent crimes linked to vehicles with fake paper license plates

The Texas DMV has redesigned temporary license plates to be more secure. But, some police question if these changes are enough

Fake paper plates printed in Texas are part of a national criminal enterprise that grossed over $200 million last year. Grand Prairie, Texas Police Chief Daniel Scesney recently lost an officer during an incident involving a suspect with a fake paper tag. 

"November 14th, we lost officer Brandon Tsai in the line of duty. He was involved in a motor vehicle collision with while engaged in the pursuit of an individual that was displaying a fictitious paper license plate" Chief Scesney said.

Officer Tsai, Grand Praire Police Department 

Officer Tsai, Grand Praire Police Department  (Grand Prairie Police Department)

He says Officer Tsai’s death is just one of the tragic results of criminals hiding their identities with fake paper temporary tags.

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The number of police incidents involving fake paper tags more than tripled in the past 6 years. Andy Kahan works with Crime Stoppers Houston. He says these tags are one reason many crimes go unsolved.

Crimes with fake paper license plates continue to increase

Crimes with fake paper license plates continue to increase (Joy Addison/Fox News)

"We’ve had a lot of high profile crimes including murders that have taken place involving paper tags" Andy Kahan said. 

A majority of these tags are purchased from Texas car and truck dealers.

The Texas DMV Director resigned in February, after much criticism over this issue.

HEAD OF TEXAS DMV RESIGNS AMID PRESSURE TO STOP WIDESPREAD SALE OF FAKE PAPER LICENSE PLATES

Now, it has redesigned paper temporary tags to include a state flag watermark and embedded data linked to law enforcement databases. Other features are secret.

"I think they’re moving in the right direction, but here’s the problem: even with the redesign, there’s nothing to stop you today from getting on your computer and creating a fake tag and printing it from your printer. In fact, I asked my staff to do it today, and it took about 45 minutes" Chief Scesney said, "I am definitely in favor of moving away from the paper tag. It is just too easy to be fabricated."

Tags seized during a one-day operation by the Dallas Police Department

Tags seized during a one-day operation by the Dallas Police Department (Joy Addison/Fox News)

Police and Crime Stoppers say the changes are a step in the right direction, but they hope more will be done.

"This upcoming legislative session, which will begin next month, I think you’re going to see further efforts to curtail this industry that has just spawned from selling fake paper tags" Kahan said. 

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A June 2021 Texas House bill allows the TxDMV to limit the number of tags licensed dealers can create, and deny their access if found printing fake tags.

The TxDMV says these efforts have worked, so far.