Phony Paper Texas Tag Leads To Car Theft Ring Bust

Estimated read time 2 min read

Two men, one from Texas the other from Florida, were arrested on February 21 after the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Task Force spotted a 2019 Dodge Challenger with fake tags. We’ve covered before what a problem temporary paper tags are and how Texas is moving to ban them entirely.

Watch a Michigan trooper doggedly chase down an assault suspect.

Detectives were able to determine the Mopar muscle car was used in the theft of a 2021 Dodge Charger in St. Petersburg that morning, says Tampa Free Press. Armed with that information, deputies tried pulling the Challenger over, but the suspects fled at high speeds.

After fleeing into Tampa, the suspects parked in the Westshore Mall parking garage. Many car thieves will park inside structures or in tunnels or below overpasses as a way to throw off police helicopters. From there they will try escaping on foot.

That’s exactly what these two did, fleeing into the mall, probably hoping to blend into the crowd. But deputies along with Tampa Police were able to identify 26-year-old Jonnathan Chau and 19-year-old Kourtney Siner, arresting them both. We wish we had bodycam footage to see the looks on their faces when their escape plan didn’t work.

According to the Auto Theft Task Force, these two are part of a known auto theft ring operating in Florida. While they didn’t provide details, investigators anticipate additional charges will be coming for both of these guys.

Sadly, auto theft rings usually look at a few members getting arrested as just the cost of doing business. They might recruit more thieves, possibly kids, and train them on swiping Mopar muscle cars or whatever else they need. Hopefully, investigators are getting closer to busting the whole ring, if that’s possible.

Image via Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office/Tampa Free Press

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Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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