During St. Anne School's recent open house, Orange County sheriff's deputies towed an illegally parked car in the Bear Brand community that allegedly had switched license plates.
According to Chief of Laguna Niguel Police Services, Lt. Andrew Ferguson, a community services officer was dispatched to the intersection of Park Road and Stoney Pointe at 6:07 p.m., Oct. 26, to check on several illegally parked cars.
"He found one that the license plate didn't match the VIN; the plate was just on the wrong car," he said. "He called for assistance and another deputy responded. The car's registration was expired over six months, which allowed us to tow and store it until the registration is paid and current, so the car was towed."
The police report also indicated a person from New Mexico was associated with the car, and had an outstanding arrest warrant. "Associated with" means he/she could have been driving the car and stopped or been identified as a passenger through some type of investigation, Ferguson explained.
"The warrant was so small, $179 for failing to appear on an expired registration ticket, that only agencies in New Mexico could arrest the person on the warrant," he said. "In other words, New Mexico doesn't want to send an officer out-of-state to take custody of someone with a $179 warrant."
Residents in the area said the man driving the car was yelling and screaming at the deputies.
"Five cop cars responded when the offender got upset with his ticket ... causing a traffic nightmare, which is pretty usual for the parents that take their kids to St. Anne's School. The authorities took his property out of the back and put in on the street," said Shirlee York, who witnessed the incident. "He was left in the street to pretty much fend for himself and wasn't happy about it. There was a woman and a child in the car with him."
York, who lives in the community, said there were four cars in total parked illegally.
There are a few reasons why drivers often switch license plates, according to Ferguson.
"They usually don't want to pay the fees. Sometimes, the cars are stolen, so they 'cold plate the car with plates from another car," he said.