In a multi-agency operation, Dallas police initiated a crackdown on illegal fake temporary license plate tags, seizing 42 fake paper "eTags," and making three arrests.
The effort was a first stab at fighting a problem that started in Texas but has now spread across the U.S.
According to a release from the DPD, on January 19, the Dallas Police Department Southwest Crime Reduction Team, South Central Crime Reduction Team, Speeding/Racing Task Force, Auto Theft Unit, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), and Homeland Security Investigations conducted a major interagency operation within the grid areas of the Southwest and South Central Patrol Divisions.
They made 149 traffic stops, confiscated 42 illegal fake tags, towed 11 vehicles, made three arrests, recovered four weapons, and two stolen cars.
"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 release said. "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 crackdown included multiple types of eTags including tags that were expired, tags that were fraudulently obtained, and illegitimate fake dealerships eTags.
Paper tags are supposed to be used on a temporary basis, while car buyers wait to receive their permanent plates.
But according to an investigation by NBC5, it's easy for someone to create a fake auto dealer entity and print the fake tags, due to poor screening by the DMV, which has inadvertently allowed even people using stolen identities to get a Texas car dealer license. NBC 5 found fraudulent tags all over Dallas.
Thanks to Texas, the problem has now manifested itself across the U.S. Fake Texas temporary vehicle tags have been showing up in crime scenes as far away as New York. In a 2021 investigation, the FBI found more than a half-million fraudulent paper tags, sold by just three people to buyers across the country.
Thanks go to Gov. Greg Abbott who in 2017 vetoed funding for law enforcement units that once fought fraudulent tags.