Canada

Ontario family frustrated as stolen licence plate racks up parking tickets

A Brampton, Ont., family say they’ve endured weeks of stress and frustration after one of their licence plates was stolen and more than $400 in parking tickets landed on their lap. 

Priyanka Kashyap has been issued a total of nine parking tickets from the nearby town of Milton since late May — six of them after she had reported the plate missing to Service Ontario and paid for new ones.

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

The family say they’ve received different information from police services and the town as they fought to have the tickets dismissed.

Local police agree their story highlights a lack of cohesion between the Ministry of Transport, police forces and municipalities. 

‘Quite flabbergasted’

On May 24, Kashyap’s brother noticed the plate on the front of her car was missing. Based on home security footage and retracing where she had travelled in recent days, Kashyap believes it 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 police report. She also went to police in person the next day. 

In June, Priyanka received a notice for overdue parking tickets, soon learning that nine tickets in total had been issued in nearby Milton, Ont. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)

Her mother, Caroline Novak, who went to the police station with her, described the police reaction as “very nonchalant.” 

“I was quite flabbergasted that the police weren’t at all concerned,” Novak said.

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

Peel Regional Police confirmed to CBC News that it does not file police reports without specific evidence of a theft or other crime — noting that licence plates sometimes fall off. 

“You’d be surprised at how often members of the public come into the police station with licence plates that they’ve found just on the roadways,” said Const. Tyler Bell, a public information officer with the police service.

Caroline Novak, smiling, wearing a black t-shirt.
Novak says she was surprised police didn’t seem concerned about her daughter’s missing plate. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)

Unexpected parking tickets

More than two weeks later, Kashyap received notices in the mail from the Town of Milton for two overdue parking tickets. 

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

When she looked up the ticket information on the town’s website, she discovered there had in fact been a total of eight tickets issued for her old licence plate — all on the same street in Milton, a community some 40 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

Five were issued after the plate had been 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 Town of Milton said it could not comment on individual cases, but in an email to CBC News, communications director Carrie Beatty said that a bylaw officer issuing a parking ticket doesn’t have access to the Ministry of Transport database that provides “ownership, registration, or other personal information.” 

Only administrative staff have access to those records, which they use when sending overdue notices. Beatty did not explain why the town would not have checked the plate status before sending the overdue notice, but said the database is updated automatically by the ministry each week. 

‘I thought it would be pretty simple’ 

When Kashyap looked up the tickets online there were also photos, which showed Kashyap’s old licence plate on a vehicle of a similar make and model, but different colour and with a different vehicle identification number (VIN) clearly visible. 

Kashyap and Novak say town officials told them they would need a police report in order to have the tickets waived.

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

Priyanka Kashyap sitting on a couch with art in the background, wearing a green sweater.
Priyanka believes her licence plate was likely stolen when she parked her car at a shopping mall. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)

They say after more back and forth with police and the town, they were able to fill out a report with the Peel police later that day, June 13, with the details of all the parking tickets. They say the Peel police told them they would get Halton Regional Police involved to seize the plates, since the tickets were issued in Halton Region. 

Halton police say they’ve since seized the stolen plate from an unoccupied vehicle. 

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

A little more than three weeks after going back to Peel police, the family received a copy of the police report on Friday. 

They hope they’ll now be able to have the tickets dismissed for good, but say the process shouldn’t have been so complicated. 

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

For his part, Bell, with Peel Regional Police, agrees that the process the family had to go through is “definitely inefficient,” and that there could be better systems in place to avoid the possibility of issuing tickets to unregistered licence plates in the first place. 

“It results in somebody having to make multiple phone calls and take, you know, substantial time out of their life to deal with something that is out of their hands,” Bell said. 

“At the end of the day, someone victimized them.”

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