The vehicle used in the parlor shot had a paper tag – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
NBC 5 Investigates has learned that the vehicle used by the alleged shooter who opened fire inside a Dallas barbershop had a type of temporary Texas paper license plate that may make it more difficult for the police to locate the owner of the car.
The shooting, in the Koreatown neighborhood of the city, injured three Asian women in what police described as a hate crime.
NBC 5 obtained the vehicle’s tag number from a Dallas police arrest warrant affidavit. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles later confirmed on Tuesday that the tag is what’s called a “vehicle-specific tag,” a type of paper tag meant to be used by car dealerships, primarily for test drives or moving vehicles from one dealership to another.
It’s unclear why the suspect in the living room shooting, Jeremy Theron Smith, 37, allegedly had one of those dealer tags, and Dallas police didn’t immediately respond to questions about the tag Tuesday night. .
The TxDMV told NBC5 that the small Dallas County dealer who issued the tag had its dealer’s license revoked in April for violating TxDMV rules, although the department did not say what specific rules were revoked. violated.
Vehicle-specific labels are registered to a dealer’s name, not an individual. So if the vehicle is involved in a crime, the police will first have to contact the dealer to find out who is driving the car, which can slow down an investigation.
But in this case, the Dallas police seem to have made a major breakthrough in the case with high-tech policing.
According to a police affidavit, investigators were able to use data collected by license plate readers who had previously captured images of the paper tag on Smith’s car parked multiple times at an address in Dallas. Officers were then able to drive to that address and locate the car.
For months, an ongoing NBC 5 investigation has shown how paper tags cause big headaches for police investigating crimes across the state, as they can often make it more difficult to identify the owner of an item. a car.
Hundreds of thousands of fraudulent paper tags were sold illegally for profit, according to law enforcement investigators. And our reporting has also shown how small dealerships often misuse paper tags by affixing certain types of temporary tags to cars that shouldn’t have them, creating even more difficulty for police trying to determine which are legitimate or not.
Texas lawmakers are now considering scrapping the state’s paper tag system to address lingering safety concerns.
On Tuesday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson told NBC 5 he wanted more action to address the beacon issue, saying in a statement: “…we will need more help from other law enforcement agencies and Austin in the next legislative session. We must all work together to put public safety first and stop the unscrupulous dealers, criminals and criminal enterprises who use these tags. . »
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