River Oaks traffic offenders could become victims

Posted Monday, Oct. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
How to help Anyone who finds the ticket book is asked to call the River Oaks Police Department at 817-626-1991, ext. 301. • Said Police Chief Avin Carter: “We’ll come pick it up or they can bring it here. We’d like to know who found it, but they’re not in trouble. There was no theft.”

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Drivers who recently received traffic tickets in River Oaks face a double dose of bad news.

A River Oaks patrol officer lost his ticket book — and the ticketed drivers’ names, driver’s license numbers and other personal information that were included on the citations.

“People should check their credit histories and make sure no one has already stolen their identity and opened an account in their name,” said River Oaks Police Chief Avin Carter.

Certified letters will be sent out this week to people whose names, driver’s license numbers, addresses, dates of birth and, in some cases, Social Security numbers are on copies of citations written between Sept. 16 and Oct. 5 by one of 12 River Oaks officers. The city will offer a one-year credit-monitoring service to each person to help them watch for identity theft, Carter said.

“I’ve been here going on 32 years and this is the first time that anything like this has happened,” Carter said. “Those tickets are audited, and we have to account for every one of them.”

Each citation has three copies, Carter explained. The top, original copy is white and went to River Oaks Municipal Court. The second, pink copy went to the offender. A third, yellow copy remained in the officer’s citation book, which typically is kept in a protective metal container, Carter said.

There are 25 citations in a book, and Carter said that several tickets had been written, “but we’d like to keep the exact number to ourselves.”

Also, the tickets remain valid and offenders must pay them or appear in court as instructed, Carter said.

“The loss has nothing to do with the fact of the violation,” he said. “The tickets belong to the municipal court once we write them.”

Carter would not identify the officer who lost the book but said he has been with the department for several years.

“The officer got counseling to be more careful,” Carter said. “People make mistakes.”

On Oct. 5, the officer had to switch patrol cars during his shift and, as he transferred equipment from one unit to another, set his citation book on the cruiser’s roof, Carter said. After the officer drove away from the fenced lot behind the police station at 4900 River Oaks Boulevard, he realized his mistake. But the citation book container had fallen off.

“When he backtracked he couldn’t find it,” Carter said. “The container never was located and nobody ever turned it in. We don’t know if someone kept it, tossed it into the trash or what.”

River Oaks City Council members were told of the incident last week and decided on the course of action, Carter said.

"This is what they wanted," Carter said. “The letters will go out as soon as they are written. First we have to get all the tickets that were issued. The city administrator is writing the letter, and the city attorney has to approve it.”

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620 Twitter: @fwstevans

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