DENVER (CBS4) – Drivers in Colorado are only supposed to be able to get temporary license plates from auto dealers and the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles, but a 4 On Your Side Investigation found fake plates are being produced by criminals frequently.

CBS4 found numerous cases of fake temporary plates on cars.

Real temporary plates have genuine holograms with the state of Colorado seal. There are also other security features, like a faintly printed chain and colors designed to fade.

Fake temporary plates CBS4 came in contact with during its investigation used chewing gum foil and other materials to mimic the real thing. Multiple fraudulent plates also sometimes have the same plate number on them.

The crime rings responsible for the fraud are hard to track down in part because the fake plates can be made using a copier.

Trooper Nate Reid says the Colorado State Patrol frequently comes across fraudulent temporary tags.

“Any crime that you can think of that someone doesn’t want to be detected any crime out there can commit with one of these registration tabs,” Reid said.

A drive through some Denver neighborhoods reveals parking lots filled with cars with temporary license plates in the back windows. There are so many in some places that it makes some wonder — are they real or are they fake?

Kris Belser, the director of security patrol company Colorado Advance Patrol, says he has a trained eye for fake temporary plates. He often removes them from improperly parked cars he’s had towed.

“They are everywhere,” he said.

Belser said one method criminals use is to place a fake temporary plate inside a car’s tinted window.

“Here this is just a photocopy and they put a piece of window tint over it so it kind of looks like a hologram if you look real quick,” he said.

Trooper Reid said officers in his department often only get within 30 to 35 feet from a vehicle, making it hard to tell the difference.

CBS4 showed a handful of fake temporary plates Belser’s company had collected to Maren Rubino, the head of titles and registration at the DMV.

“Is our system being subverted?” CBS4’s Rick Sallinger asked Rubino.

temporary colorado license plates Criminals Subvert Process For Vehicle Temporary Tags

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Maren Rubino. (credit: CBS)

“It would appear, yes, it is being subverted, I would say looking at these,” Rubino said.

State officials are hoping to put temporary license plate counterfeiters out of business. They are considering rolling out temporary plates that are more difficult to counterfeit.

Police are also now able to check the numbers on the plates from the computers inside their cars in their effort to determine if they are real or fake.


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