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DPS Steps Up Fake Vehicle Inspection Crackdown Following NBC 5 Investigation

One day after NBC 5 Investigates questioned DPS Director Steve McCraw about gaps in enforcement, the agency announced plans to target hundreds of state-licensed inspectors suspected of fraud

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The Texas Department of Public Safety announced Thursday it is ramping up efforts to crack down on state-licensed vehicle inspection stations that are conducting fake inspections.

That announcement comes in the wake of an NBC5 Investigation revealing some law enforcement investigators believe as many as 5 million cars on Texas roads are "clean scanned" every year. That’s when someone pays a state-licensed inspection station to fake emissions and safety checks.

As NBC 5 Investigatesreporting has shown, the state's computer system does not prevent cars with fake inspections from falsely passing and getting Texas license plates, even though law enforcement officials say the system captures information showing that the inspections were fraudulent.

In a news release issued Thursday, DPS said it plans to ramp up enforcement over the next 60 days. The department said it anticipates removing another 700 inspectors suspected of conducting fraudulent inspections from the system by mid-April.

On Wednesday, NBC 5 Investigates questioned DPS Director Steve McCraw about the security gaps in the inspection system. McCraw pledged to help fix the problems, working with the TCEQ, The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which maintains the inspection computer system that DPS uses to enforce the inspection rules.

“We've got an obligation to enforce it, whether the system's working or not. And I'm quite confident that we work very closely with TCEQ that we can get this vulnerability taken care of,” McCraw said to NBC 5 Senior Investigative Reporter Scott Friedman, who approached McCraw in the halls of the Texas State capitol seeking answers to questions.

TCEQ officials have declined requests for interviews but have said in statements that they are working with DPS to address fraud.

As we have reported, DPS began an operation in the fall of 2022 aimed at cracking down on stations conducting fake inspections. The department said Thursday it has it took action against 270 stations, including 34 that the agency said were involved in “gross misconduct.”

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