To Catch a Theft Victim

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File this one under "Well it certainly feels true":

Steve Steinberg refused to pay a parking ticket issued after his car had been stolen, so the Washington, DC Department of Motor Vehicles sent a collections agency after him. […] After he reported the theft, Steinberg says, the DC police and DMV ticketed his car, towed it, then released it to the thief.

Despite having several opportunities to check the car's license plates, the only thing Steinberg got from the police was a $200 ticket for the parking violation the thief had committed. Steinberg sent letters to the police and DMV and informed them that his car had been stolen and he would not pay the ticket, so the DMV reported him to a collections agency.

Underlying story here.

I am quite confident that I will never be able to successfully satisfy the bureaucratic requirements for licensing my car at the DC DMV. Last time I braved the line I was told to come back only when I brought my Social Security card. Hasn't this nation gone paperless yet?

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  1. WTF? Why in the world does the DC DMV want your socialist security card? Are they paying you wages or dividends now?

    -jcr

  2. WTF? Why in the world does the DC DMV want your socialist security card? Are they paying you wages or dividends now?

    Real ID Act. To protect us all from terrorists. Do you feeel safer now?

  3. Yet another reason to take the bus. You know, just like the bureaucrats at the DMV . . .

  4. Shouldnt the thief had to have paid the ticket before they released the car to him? DC will release towed cars with outstanding tickets?

  5. Tom Wolfe has the best car-towing yarn ever in A Man in Full.

  6. A few years ago, having just moved from Virgina to a Alabama, I went to the DMV to get my new papers…

    Now, I knew I would need to identify myself, so I brought my existing drivers license, and my valid US passport.

    Enter. Take ticket from machine. Sit and read a few chapters. Hear my summons, go forward. The desk golem sends me to stand in a line. Time passes. More time passes. I come to the front of the line. Explain that I want to get a local drivers license, and present paperwork.

    Finally, I learn that my passport won’t do. I’ll have to come again with a birth certificate or socialist surveillance card.

    ::sigh::

    This from a state that has all but rolled over for the REAL ID.

    Go figure.

  7. Back in the old days, you could just mail in your DC ticket without payment and they’d accept it.

  8. After he reported the theft, Steinberg says, the DC police and DMV ticketed his car, towed it, then released it to the thief.

    I would have to describe that as Street Theatre of the Absurd.

  9. Real ID Act. To protect us all from terrorists. Do you feeel safer now?

    Oh, that’s okay then. Only drooling paleolibertarians and Birchers are opposed to Real ID cards.

  10. John C, you can’t get a DL these days without furnishing the toadies a SSAN.

    Matt: Hot Tip, move to Falls Church or Alexandria, commute via the tube. Or, Maryland, and take the train to the tube.

  11. Thank god for the real south. (Geographically, anyhow.) When I turned 18 I got my license in Florida – that’s where my parents are registered to vote (we had been living overseas since I was five), and my sister and her family were living there. Four years later my wallet was stolen while I was living in Chicago. I reported it, of course, but didn’t bother getting a new one, being in a city with a massive public transport system and no car of my own. Three years later while visiting family, I walk into a Florida DMV, show the clerk a passport, she brings up my file in the computer – bingo, new license.

  12. Ah, the sweet nectar of bureaucracy!

    I recall in the late nineties it took me three years to get a serious matter straightened out. I switched insurance companies (for a better rate, and some other conveniences), and keep in mind, not one single day went by where my insurance had lapsed.

    The old company is required by law to report changes, and when they did, the bureaucrats in Raleigh decided to revoke my tags without checking the records. I likely spent two hundred or so hours, getting this matter resolved.

    At one point, I was assured by the bureaucrat I was speaking to that the records showed my tags, license and insurance situation to be current, only to be stopped by a cop like a week later when I pulled out of a parking lot where he had scanned all the licenses of the cars and found mine to be wanton according to his data base.

    Yep, that cost me four hundred bucks to get out of with a good lawyer.

  13. I got two parking tickets from the City of Seattle on the same day, one for an address that didn’t exist in the city, but was curiously similar to the address which did exist. The city demanded I paid for the ticket for the address which didn’t exist.

    I argued.

    They didn’t back down.

    I wrote letters.

    They threatened a bench warrant and collections.

    I saw a lawyer.

    He suggested I write the city attorney.

    I wrote the city attorney.

    I got a letter back telling me they’d drop the late penalties, but I was to pay the base amount of the ticket ($45).

    I was tired. I paid a ticket for an address which didn’t exist.

  14. Not so long ago I needed a fresh copy of my official birth certificate. The only way to get one, I found out, was to appear in the city office of the place in which I was born: Cambridge, MA. When I told them what I wanted they asked for:

    1. Given name at birth.
    2. Date of birth.
    3. Mother’s maiden name.

    I didn’t have to produce anything proving I was who I said I was; I just paid the fee and left with a nice, fresh, clean copy of a birth certificate, complete with official seal and stamp of the City of Cambridge Massachusetts.

    I don’t know if the requirements have changed since then, but given a little knowledge you can be anyone you want to be, at least in Cambridge.

  15. Hasn’t this nation gone paperless yet?

    Oh how I wish that were even remotely close to true. I visited the US embassy in Kiev recently and pretty much the only thing you’re allowed to bring in is paper.

    http://kiev.usembassy.gov/visa_visitmemo_eng.html

    I have been able to file all of my business and personal taxes except one form electronically. That form cost $70 in shipping plus coordination with a relative to mail it once it was in the US.

    I’m not sure who irritates me more: the people who still require paper or the people who require a permanent address even though they don’t actually do anything with it.

  16. “I am quite confident that I will never be able to successfully satisfy the bureaucratic requirements for licensing my car at the DC DMV. Last time I braved the line I was told to come back only when I brought my Social Security card. Hasn’t this nation gone paperless yet?”

    Now THAT is most DEFINITELY John McCain’s fault. lol

  17. If Matt’s allowed to get a driver’s license without first showing his Social Security card, what’s to prevent him from then filling his car with high explosives and crashing it into some super-important government building, huh? Bet you guys never thought of THAT.

  18. I have no sympathy for anyone who lives in Moscow, D.C.
    Fraternizing with the enemy, and all that.

  19. While there are many, many reasons to bitch about DC, I still love their license plates.

  20. I lost my SS card years ago. Luckily I had gotten my NY license well before 9-11 and my number was in the system (sans card) and once it’s in the system they let it go. However, if I moved to NYC for the first time now, I could forget about getting a license unless I went through the rigmarole of getting a replacement SS card. Which I should probably do right now because it’s probably going to bite me in the ass eventually.

    Fuck you, FDR!

  21. I’ve never had a social security card. I have a number, but I’ve never seen the actual card. It got lost in one of the many moves of my childhood. I’ve never needed to actually present the card to anyone in my almost 40 years of existence. If I have, I had other documentation that was acceptable. Hell, I joined the Army without the card.

  22. And people around the ED beltway area wonder why I keep my vehicles, driving privelages and 2nd Amendment rights registered in Tennessee.

  23. *DC beltway.

    Stupid hand-eye coordination.

  24. Social security number? Naught, naught, naught. Naught, naught. Naught, naught, naught, 2. Damn Roosevelt. Cause of parents death? Got in my way.

  25. Jennifer-

    Even worse, he might use that car to drive to the Home Depot parking lot and hire some IllegalAliens to MowHisLawn.

  26. t,

    They are not illegal at Reason, they are just immigrants. Cutting edge phrasing, dropping the “undocumented” part and everything.

  27. Considering that Canada is usually more bureaucratic than the US, I find this a little strange.

    Here, your Social Insurance Number (SIN = US Social Security) may only be used for income tax, pension and unemployment insurance purposes. All other uses – driver’s license, credit reporting, medical benefits etc. – are forbidden. Believe it or not, this is actually enforced. Even government agencies not related to tax or pension matters cannot require or even request it.

    Strange that the US Governments – federal and state – are actually more invasive than those in Canada (in this one respect).

  28. Aresen,

    Whats strange is that it used to be that way here. When I first got my license (1986), my license# was my SS, with another number tacked on the end. Sometime in the 90s, it changed to some arbitrary number.

    Similar thing in college. In 1988, physics test results were posted on the outside of the building by SS#. Someone complained and they started posting with only last 4 digits instead. Im sure students have some ID# now that isnt an SS.

    So, what we had was a trend in the 80s to use it everywhere, followed by a trend to prevent it from being used starting in late 80s. 20 years later, they are trying to use it for everything again.

  29. “Chip here does the killin’. I don’t like to kill. I’m the brains, eh? Like, we got over five billion dollars in our hideout, only some of the money’s marked, eh, so we’re not spendin’ it. We’s just waitin’.”

    “Youse guys like a smoke?”

    “No, eh. We want our lungs to be pink when they fry us. Hey, we told ’em we didn’t want a lawyer. Chip here probably just kill him anyway.”

    “Lawyers are for sucks. “

  30. So, what we had was a trend in the 80s to use it everywhere, followed by a trend to prevent it from being used starting in late 80s. 20 years later, they are trying to use it for everything again.

    When FDR proposed the law it specifically prohibited using the number as an ID number. I still have my original SS card, from the 60s. (Back when you got an SSAN when you started working, not when you were born.) It’s so old my name is actually manually typed on it. It says, quite clearly printed across the bottom,

    FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AND TAX PURPOSES – NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION

    Last February, when I presented it to renew my Texas driver’s license, the clerk asked a DPS officer if it “looked real.”

  31. Shouldn’t the thief had to have paid the ticket before they released the car to him? DC will release towed cars with outstanding tickets?

    They probably have a self-incrimination law that says a thief can’t be charged with illegally parking because he doesn’t legally possess the car.

    Something like their gun law, where a felon can’t be charged with possession of an unregistered firearm because it’s illegal for him to possess it.

  32. I was told to come back only when I brought my Social Security card. Hasn’t this nation gone paperless yet?

    As soon as your RealID account is carried on an RFID chip implanted in your head at bith, the paper trail will become redundant. Maybe.

    —–

    given a little knowledge you can be anyone you want to be, at least in Cambridge.

    I read a thing, a long time ago, about generating a new identity; you go to a cemetery, find the grave of a child (preferably one who died in infancy) born roughly when you were, and then get a copy of the birth certificate, and you’re in business.

  33. “bith” is not a Hillary reference.

    stupid keyboard

  34. The Georgetown DMV is the real deal. I moved to DC and, after a while needed to register my car (I was willing to deal with the potential consequences of keeping my old out-of-state registration for as long as possible to avoid dealing with any DC bureaucracy). After getting the emissions testing on a separate day (go in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, seriously – turns out EVERYONE tries to be the first person there in the morning) and being extremely confused about what I needed to bring to the DMV (I eventually just brought anything I thought would be relevant), I spent roughly 1.5 hours at the DMV registering my car, getting my tags, and a brand-new drivers license. Not bad for the most worst agency in the most terriblest bureaucracy in the country.

  35. Something like their gun law, where a felon can’t be charged with possession of an unregistered firearm because it’s illegal for him to possess it.

    Where is there such a law?

  36. Thankfully, as an active duty military man, I am permitted to retain my Iowa plates and registration while stationed in DC. Why anyone would willingly change their registration and submit themselves to the bureaucracy and sky-high taxes and fees of either DC, Maryland or Virginia is beyond me.

    Iowa may stand for Idiots Out Wandering Around, but when it comes to their DMV, they at least know how to do that right. No vehicle inspections, and low registration fees.

  37. I read a thing, a long time ago, about generating a new identity; you go to a cemetery, find the grave of a child (preferably one who died in infancy) born roughly when you were, and then get a copy of the birth certificate, and you’re in business.

    The name’s Shackleford. Rusty Shackleford.

  38. The SS card has to be the easiest form of ID (if you can even call it that) to forge. I had no idea that the cards had any purpose at all once you memorize the number.

  39. And I would have epected this story to show up in som stupid criminals story or something, like: “Stupid car thief busted when he claims stolen car after it was towed”. Don’t you need ID or something to get the car out of impound?

  40. I had no idea that the cards had any purpose at all once you memorize the number.

    At one time people were advised to memorize their SS numbers put their cards away in a safe place and not carry them. This was to avoid someone misusing the info.

    I’m not sure when the rule changed but as we know 9/11 changed everything.

    And so much for anyone believing the government saying “we will only use this information for this purpose”.

    Yeah, right.

    Are you paranoid if they really are out to get you?

  41. All other uses – driver’s license, credit reporting, medical benefits etc. – are forbidden.

    Not sure where you have been, Rumple, but that went out quite a while ago. I was working in a DOS office in Tennessee in the early 1990s and we could not deny a license to a person who did not know or did not have a SSAN. A few years later, in the late 1990s (maybe early 200s) I had to call in and give a DMV person my SSAN to keep my DL intact. It does not appear on my DL, but it is sitting in a database with me and my DL number.

  42. Hey, Montblog, read the fucking comment. The poster was talking about fucking CANADA. That’s a different country if you don’t know.

    Not that any one expects you to actually know anything. Spouting off about how some reporter hurt your feelings is mostly what any one expects.

  43. Where is there such a law?

    Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 85 (1968), Supreme Court. Requiring a felon to register a firearm is self-incrimination. Therefore a felon cannot be convicted of violating a firearm registration law.

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