The Dallas Police Department is taking aim at the fraudulent Texas paper license tags that have flooded Dallas streets.
Earlier this week, officers conducted a major operation designed to crack down on people using illegally purchased temporary plates, not only to get around town but also to hide their involvement in other crimes.
In just one day Dallas police seized enough suspect paper tags to fill a table, highlighting again the scale of the problem.
Special Dallas police units that target high crime areas teamed up with auto theft investigators, homeland security investigators, and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday targeting cars with fraudulent paper tags in an area near Camp Wisdom Road and U.S. Highway 67 in Southern Dallas.
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On Wednesday, police wrote 49 tickets and towed 11 cars. They also recovered two stolen vehicles, four weapons and arrested three people suspected of involvement in other crimes. More evidence, police said, of how people are using fraudulent tags to try to avoid being spotted by police.
“That's a tool they can use. So we need to target that, take that tool away from them, or at least combat that tool,” said Foy.
In November, NBC 5 Investigates exposed how crooked car dealers are illegally selling Texas temporary tags in massive numbers. Authorities in Travis County estimate more than 1.2 million tags were sold illegally statewide last year alone.
Paper Tag Nation
Our investigation revealed a lack of thorough vetting by the DMV has allowed crooks to gain access to the DMV’s tag system. The DMV acknowledged even people using stolen identities were able to get Texas car dealer licenses to get into the system and illegally sell tags.
NBC 5 found fraudulent tags all over Dallas, many issued by car dealers the DMV eventually shut down for suspected fraud.
Investigators said crooked dealers are often willing to create tags registered to fictitious names and addresses, creating ghost cars that are difficult to track.
“If they commit a robbery, a homicide, street racing, you know, whatever the crime might be, if all we have is the license plate from that paper tag, if it's fraudulent, we have no, we don't have much to go with,” said Foy.
In 2017, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vetoed funding for special law enforcement units that used to fight tag fraud in major cities.
Paper Tag Nation
But Friday, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) said it has obtained federal funds to help more police departments ramp up enforcement, hopefully later this year.
“I think it's not a matter of if it's a matter of when. We’re very optimistic,” said Chris Klaus, senior program manager for NCTCOG.
Since NBC 5’s reporting on the issue, the NCTCOG said it has received a flurry of calls from police departments wanting to know more about how to combat the real Texas tags created using fake information.
“Seeing the broadcasts that you guys have done is painting the picture that, 'Yeah, they may look OK, but they may likely not be OK,'” said Klaus.
Meanwhile, Dallas police are sending a message, reminding everyone the only place you can get a paper tag legally is at the time of the initial sale from the dealer that sells you the car.
Dallas police said they will continue to work not only to take the tags off the street but to track those tags back to the people selling them.
After NBC 5’s reporting showed how some small suspect car dealers were printing hundreds of thousands of tags, a DMV advisory committee recommended more thorough background checks for people applying for small car dealer licenses. The board that oversees the DMV will meet to discuss that recommendation next week.
- June 12, 2023 - Gov. Abbott signs law eliminating paper license plates in Texas
- May 24, 2023 - Bill to Eliminate Paper License Plates in Texas Passes Texas Senate
- March 27, 2023 - Texas DMV's New Paper Tag Design Easily Counterfeited, Police Say
- Nov. 17, 2022 - Texas DMV Redesigns Paper License Tags to Include New Security Features
- Nov. 15, 2022 - Police Searching for Paper Tagged 'Ghost Car' in Deadly Grand Prairie Chase
- June 1, 2022 - Police Make Bogus Tag Bust Tied to Social Media Ads
- May 18, 2022 - TxDMV Names New Executive Director Amid Paper Tag Crisis
- May 17, 2022 - Vehicle Used in Dallas Salon Shooting Had Paper Tag
- May 12, 2022 - Ads for Fake Tags Persist, Despite Facebook, TxDMV Efforts
- May 4, 2022 - Texas' Paper Tag Problem Compounded by Small Dealers Misusing Them
- May 3, 2022 - Dallas Police Shut Down Accused Fake Paper Tag Dealer
- April 26, 2022 - Texas House Set to Hold Paper Tag Hearings
- April 14, 2022 - Texas DMV Cracks Down on Dealers Selling Temporary Paper Tags
- April 13, 2022 - TxDMV Closes Inspection Loophole That Put Unsafe Cars on Roads
- April 12, 2022 - Dallas Police Go Undercover to Fight Illegal Paper Tags
- April 7, 2022 - Police Warn of Fake Paper Tags Used to Cheat Car Buyers
- April 5, 2022 - Texas Senate Will Investigate Illegal Paper Tag Crimes, Smuggling
- March 9, 2022 - Texas Paper Tag Crime Danger Extends Nationwide
- March 5, 2022 - Texas House Will Hold Hearings on Paper Tag Mess
- Feb. 28, 2022 - License to Smuggle: Drug Cartels and Human Smugglers Use Paper Texas Tags to Evade
- Feb. 15, 2022 - Fort Worth Police Announce Special Operation Targeting Paper Tags
- Feb. 14, 2022 -- Crash Victim's Parents Want More Cops to Police Paper Tag Fraud
- Feb. 13, 2022 - More Funding Need to Fight Criminals Using Bogus Paper Tags: Police
- Feb. 10, 2022 - Police Report Drop in Fraudulent Tags But Warn Crooks Are Adapting
- Feb. 9, 2022 - Texas DMV Shuts Down Six More Dealers Suspected of Selling Paper License Tags
- Feb. 7, 2022 - TxDMV Director Resigns Amidst Paper Tag Mess
- Jan. 27, 2022 - TxDMV Takes Emergency Action to Keep Crooks From Selling Paper Tags
- Jan. 21, 2022 - Dallas Police Operation Targets Fraudulent Paper Tags
- Jan. 17, 2022 - Recording Shows Police Warned TxDMV of Paper Tag Security Flaw Years Ago
- Dec. 16, 2021 - DMV Committee Recommends Fingerprinting Some Dealers to Slow Paper Tag Fraud
- Dec. 14, 2021 - Texas House Transportation Chair Vows to Stop Paper Tag Fraud
- Dec. 6, 2021 - Texas DMV Boss Deflects Blame for Paper Tag Debacle
- Nov. 23, 2021 - Illegal Paper Tags Costing Texas Taxpayers and Toll Roads Millions
- Nov. 10, 2021 - Suspected Paper Tag Peddler Shut Down Tuesday, Reopens Wednesday: Investigators
- Nov. 8, 2021 - How Texas Paper Tags Became a $200M Criminal Enterprise: NBC 5 Investigates