2014 Looking Beyond the License Plate Award Program
Top Honors Award
Officer David Pilkington – Chandler Police Department, Arizona
Officer Pilkington was driving a fully marked Chandler Police Vehicle with license plate reader equipment through a public housing complex when he received a hit on a stolen white Dodge Intrepid. The vehicle was unoccupied upon discovery. The vehicle was unoccupied at the time Officer Pilkington found it, so Detective Wiseman was called to conduct surveillance undercover. No one came to the vehicle, so it was recovered.
Further investigation revealed that the apartment complex parking lot had a video surveillance, which exposed the identity of the male getting out of the stolen vehicle. Officer Pilkington was able to identify the male subject, receive the suspect's information, and conducted surveillance on the location. The man was located and arrested for possession of the vehicle. A search warrant was conducted in his apartment where the vehicle's key fob was located. The male was eventually booked for possession of the stolen vehicle.
While the stolen vehicle was being investigated, Officer Pilkington was contacted by a detective and the FBI that the male arrested was a suspect in a homicide. Not only was the male the subject, but the stolen vehicle is believed to be involved when committing the homicide. The investigation is still ongoing.
Trooper Brian Bass - Georgia State Patrol
Trooper Bass was on regular patrol when he received an Amber Alert notice for a child abduction. The vehicle description, tag number, victims, and possible suspects involved were given on the broadcast. It was also noted they may be en-route to Florida on I-75. Trooper Bass obtained additional information to help locate the suspect and victim.
Trooper Bass and Trooper Kelch both monitored traffic 300+ miles south of the abduction area and waited. Trooper Bass observed a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle's description. Once confirmed, a felony traffic stop was conducted. The vehicle occupants were removed. The two men were taken into custody and turned over to the originating agency. The kidnapped mother and child were secured and found to be unharmed.
Officer Franciele Soares and Officer Bruno Nunes – Local Department of the City of Londrina in Brazil
Officer Franciele Soares and Officer Bruno Nunes were doing a themed command against drug trafficking when they stopped a vehicle with a license plate from the state of "Rio Grand do Sul." Vehicles coming from this state are potentially suspects of the passage of drugs. The licenses of the drivers and vehicle passed the check, but the driver was very nervous during the approach. His phone also wouldn't stop ringing. One officer asked to look at the driver's phone and he allowed it. There were some missed calls and a message from a gas station.
Part of this particular drug trafficking team went to the particular gas station. The gas station was very quite besides a man in military uniform who seemed to be nervous that the officers has arrived. The vehicle he was with seemed to be an official car, but at closer look, the officers noticed something peculiar. The date of manufacture on the plate was prior to the date of manufacture of the vehicle (the plates are made after the vehicle is manufactured).
The license plate on the car belonged to a military army car, but it had been stolen. Once it was realized that the vehicle had been cloned, the officers conducted a thorough search and seizure of 462.7 pounds of cocaine and 316.15 pounds of marijuana that was hidden in the fake official vehicle. The officers also seized $5,000 in cash and R$ 8550 (Brazilian Real) in cash too. The cloned vehicle driver was arrested and the driver of the original car pulled over gave support to the crime as well.
Trooper Jeffrey Crofoot – Michigan State Police, Cadillac Post
On September 9, 2013 Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield was shot and killed by an assailant in Manistee County, MI. Trooper Butterfield performed a routine traffic stop on a pickup truck. During the course of the stop, the male driver shot Trooper Butterfield in the head and fled the scene with his female companion. He soon abandoned the truck and illegally assumed control of a Pontiac Grand Prix. The license plate number of the Grand Prix was provided to responding officers as they searched for the assailant.
The Grand Prix's rear license plate was used to identify the plate. After shooting Trooper Butterfield, the suspect removed the Grand Prix from its location without the owner's permission. Two Troopers located the Grand Prix at a gas station about two hours after the shooting.
The two Troopers confirmed the license plate number and determined the vehicle was empty. The male suspect and his female accomplice had entered the gas station's store building. As the troopers secured the perimeter of the building, the male suspect exited the rear of the store and began fleeing. The male suspect pointed a handgun in the direction of one of the two troopers and was then shot by that officer and taken into custody. The male has since been tried and convicted of the murder of Trooper Paul Butterfield.
Officer Daniel Sekely – Prince William County Police Department in Virginia
While Officer Daniel Sekely was on a routine patrol, he observed a suspicious vehicle displaying altered tags. Officer Sekely conducted a traffic stop. During the traffic stop, the officer obtained consent to search the vehicle. He located a small amount of marijuana, along with numerous items that he recalled from a recent crime bulletin. The items included burglarious tools, clothing matching the offender description, and several stolen items.
Officer Sekely contacted Criminal Investigations and a detective responded to interview the suspect. From the traffic stop and the officer's approach, detectives from Prince William County and surrounding jurisdictions were able to successfully arrest the suspect, along with 7 others, closing out nearly 70 burglaries in the area.
Patrol Officer Nicholas Kundert – Colorado Springs Police Department
Officer Kundert was on patrol checking for suspicious vehicles in a motel parking lot where stolen vehicles had been previously recovered. As he was checking the vehicles in the parking lot, he observed a newer Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck backed into a parking space. He ran the front license plate and determined the plate was reported stolen the previous day.
Officer Kundert exited the vehicle and determined the rear plate matched the stolen front plate. He then attempted to check the VIN plate in the windshield and it has been covered with a piece of paper. The paper was a Colorado registration for another Toyota Tacoma. He determined the vehicle had been unlawfully entered and numerous items had been stolen from within. Officer Kundert started to enter the passenger side of the vehicle when the truck doors locked. He suspected someone had used the remote to lock the vehicle. His suspicions were correct when he found that the male's room was approximately 20 feet away from the truck.
The male's record was searched, and it was determined that he was on probation for burglary. Once gaining access to the truck, it was discovered that the truck was also reported stolen. With a search warrant, the officers recovered the keys to the truck as well as numerous items and financial information of over 40 victims. Follow-up investigations let to the conviction of the male. He was convicted with theft, identity theft, possession of ID theft tools, forgery, and possession of identity documents.
Read the stories of the 2013 Looking Beyond the License Plate Program winners.