Ontario family frustrated by stolen license plate, resulting in many parking tickets

Ontario family frustrated by stolen license plate, resulting in many parking tickets

A Brampton, Ontario, family says they’ve endured weeks of stress and frustration after one of their license plates was stolen and they were hit with a fine of more than $400.

Priyanka Kashyap has received a total of nine parking tickets from the nearby city of Milton since late May, six of which she reported to Service Ontario as missing plates and paid for new plates.

“It’s just frustrating,” said Kashyap, who has been trying to contest the tickets for weeks.

The family says they received mixed information from police and the city as they fought to have the fines dropped.

Local police agree that their story exposes a lack of coherence between the Department of Transport, the police and the municipalities.

‘Quite astonished’

On May 24, Kashyap’s brother noticed that the license plate on the front of her car was missing. Based on the security footage from her home and where she had traveled in the past few days, Kashyap believes the license plate was likely stolen while her vehicle was parked at a mall two days earlier.

Kashyap says she called Peel Regional Police on May 27 and was told there was no need to file a report. She also went to the police in person the next day.

Priyanka Kashyap, left, with her mother Caroline Novak and brother Ashwin Kashyap. The family was shocked and frustrated when they received parking tickets linked to a license plate they had reported stolen. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)

Her mother, Caroline Novak, who accompanied her to the police station, described the police response as “very nonchalant”.

“I was amazed that the police didn’t care at all,” Novak said.

On the advice of police, Kashyap and Novak went to Service Ontario on May 28 to report the missing license plate and paid for new plates.

Peel Regional Police confirmed to CBC News that they do not file charges without specific evidence of theft or other crime, noting that license plates sometimes fall off.

“You would be surprised how many times citizens come into the police station with license plates that they just found on the road,” said Const. Tyler Bell, a police public relations officer.

In June, Priyanka received a message about late parking tickets. She soon discovered that a total of nine tickets had been issued in nearby Milton, Ontario. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)

Unexpected parking fines

More than two weeks later, Kashyap received a notice in the mail from the City of Milton about two late parking tickets.

“I was very confused because I don’t live there,” Kashyap said.

When she looked up ticket information on the city’s website, she discovered that a total of eight tickets had been issued for her old license plate, all on the same street in Milton, a community about 40 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

Five were issued after the plate was reported missing to Service Ontario and was no longer registered to Kashyap. The other three were issued after the plate was likely stolen, but before it was reported missing.

The City of Milton said it could not comment on individual cases, but Communications Director Carrie Beatty wrote in an email to CBC News that a parking enforcement officer who issues a ticket does not have access to the Ministry of Transportation’s database that contains “ownership, registration or other personal information.”

She said only administrative staff have access to that data, which they use when sending out delinquency notices. Beatty did not explain why the city would not have checked the license plate status before sending out delinquency notices, but said the database is automatically updated by the department each week.

“I thought it would be pretty simple”

When Kashyap looked up the tickets online, there were also photos that showed Kashyap’s old license plate on a vehicle of the same make and model, but a different color and a clearly visible different Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Kashyap and Novak say city officials told them they needed a police report to get the fines waived.

“It’s definitely stressful because I thought it would be pretty simple. Like, you know, I would show them the picture, this is not my car, this is not my VIN,” Kashyap said.

Novak says she was surprised that police didn’t seem concerned about her daughter’s missing license plate. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)

They say that after more back and forth with the police and the city, they were able to file a report with Peel police later that day, June 13th, detailing all of the parking tickets. They say Peel police told them that they would be calling in Halton Regional Police to seize the license plates, since the tickets were issued in Halton Region.

Halton police say they have now seized the stolen license plate from an unoccupied vehicle.

But not before a ninth parking ticket was issued, four days after the police filed a report.

More than three weeks after the family had again been to the Peel police, they received a copy of the police report on Friday.

They hope the fines can now be permanently withdrawn, but say the process should not have been so complicated.

“I know it’s a license plate and it could have been worse, but it’s still… I feel frustrated,” Kashyap said.

Bell of the Peel Regional Police, for his part, agrees that the process the family had to go through was “grossly inefficient” and that better systems could be put in place to prevent fines being issued for unregistered license plates in the first place.

“The result is that someone has to make multiple phone calls and it takes a lot of time to deal with something that they have no control over,” Bell said.

“Ultimately, they were duped by someone else.”