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Colorado woman sent to collections for tickets racked up by thief who stole her license plate

Cole Huling told Denver7 she reported her license plate as stolen after her trailer was taken in 2022, yet she continued to receive citations connected to those stolen plates.
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Posted at 9:56 AM, Jan 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-07 18:27:28-05

DENVER — A Larimer County woman has a warning about stolen license plates. She's been sent to collections for tickets on a license plate she reported stolen a year ago. She's concerned this could be happening to other car theft victims and they might not even know about it until it's too late.

When Denver7 last checked in with the Handsome Little Devils artists, they were pleading for their stolen trailer with important custom equipment in it to be returned. That trailer was taken from their studio off Colfax Avenue and Teller Street in late 2022.

"Immediately after the theft, we went to the DMV to register the license plate as stolen," said Cole Huling.

In the year since, a lot has changed. Huling and her husband left Denver and moved to Larimer County to set up a new studio and home. But the aftermath of the stolen trailer followed them north.

They ended up recovering the empty trailer weeks after the theft, but the license plates were stolen, and ended up collecting tickets all over Denver.

Throughout 2023, Huling was able to get the tickets dismissed after providing the police report. But recently, she checked the status of the stolen plates and found something shocking.

"There is an outstanding citation that now has accrued not one late fee, but multiple late fees now it's a $260 citation," said Huling. "My big question was, why are citations being issued on a plate that [the agencies] know is stolen?"

The fine was sent to collections under her name.

When she called the Denver County Parking Court, she was told they could not dismiss the citation anymore.

"[They said] We have new regulations in place and we are no longer able to dismiss this citation because it is a valid citation on the plate and you are the last known registrant to this license plate," explained Huling, "Our plates were stolen. There's no way that somebody was going to re-register those plates."

Colorado woman sent to collections for tickets racked up by thief who stole her license plate

Denver7 reached out to the Denver County Court who said their role is to, "determine whether a citation is validly written and if so, take into consideration any mitigating information the customer may provide with their appeal."

Huling said she's worried this could be happening to other people who have had their plates stolen, and those victims of car theft may not even realize it.

"You make this call, you make that call, you file this paper to find out that none of it mattered, that I'm still receiving these violations and I am on the hook for them on paper," she said

Huling said she learned that the stolen plates were eventually seized by law enforcement sometime last year.

The Colorado DMV said they do not prohibit county courts from dismissing tickets in cases like these, even if state records show a car theft victim as the last registered plate owner.

Denver7 has a request to Denver County Courts to see why Huling's appeal this time around wasn't enough to dismiss the citation. We will update this report when we hear back.

To report a stolen license plate, a driver needs to contact local law enforcement to report it and then complete the DR 2283 Affidavit of Lost or Stolen Plates at a local DMV office.

Huling, who said she did those exact steps, is hoping for a change in procedure when handling these types of cases.

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