Dallas police seize 42 fake paper license-plate tags in one-day operation

DALLAS — Police in Dallas seized 42 fake paper license plate tags during a one-day operation on Wednesday, authorities said.

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In a statement, the Dallas Police Department said the agency joined the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and Homeland Security Investigations to make 149 traffic stops, tow 11 vehicles, make three arrests and recover four weapons and two stolen cars, The Dallas Morning News reported.

“Vehicles using fictitious temporary license plates or improper temporary license plates, all referred to as eTags, are commonly used in crimes from auto thefts to homicides,” the Dallas Police Department said in a news release. “The operation was intended to interdict these vehicles, investigate the reason for the fictitious license plate, tow vehicles when applicable, and arrest the offender if needed.”

The illegal sale of paper tags is a large criminal enterprise in Texas. They are used as a temporary plate for people who buy a car as they await their permanent plate, the Morning News reported.

KXAS-TV reported in November that car dealers were netting millions of dollars by illegally selling paper license plates. Authorities in Travis County estimated that more than 1.2 million tags were sold illegally statewide during 2021, the television station reported.

“That’s a tool they can use,” Richard Foy, deputy chief with the Dallas Police Department, told KXAS. “So we need to target that, take that tool away from them, or at least combat that tool.

“If (people) 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 don’t have much to go with.”