WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio (WJW) – Terrifying moments for an innocent driver, after she is surrounded by police officers, who believe the car is stolen.
It turns out that thieves took the victim’s license plate and replaced it with plates from a car that was actually stolen.
Police body camera video obtained by Fox 8 News shows officers from Willoughby Hills surrounding the car with their guns drawn after a license plate reader sent an alert that the car with that plate had been reported stolen.
The officers did what they were trained to do and ordered the driver out of the car at gunpoint.
She was eventually handcuffed, checked for weapons, and placed in the back of a police cruiser.
After being advised of her rights, the driver told police that she is the lawful owner of the car, which officers confirmed.
They then discovered that it was the license plates that were reported stolen from another car, and then switched onto the victim’s vehicle by car thieves.
Willoughby Hills Police Chief Matt Naegele told Fox 8, “I understand 100% that a situation like this would evoke an emotional response from an innocent driver. The girl that was involved in this is a very understanding individual, I certainly thank her for that, but you know the officers also acted professionally, and I appreciate the fact that this situation ended well.”
The driver told police that she lives in downtown Cleveland, and she suspects that her license plates were stolen overnight.
Investigators later determined that her plates were replaced with those from a car that was stolen in Strongsville.
“It’s just one other facet that the public has to be very aware of, I mean I could tell you for sure, I mean I don’t check the license plate on my car very often. Because of what it is that’s going on, you know I would ask members of the public to be aware that things like this are happening and check to make sure their plates have not been switched,” said Chief Naegele.
After the frightening experience in Willoughby Hills, the victim also had to file a report with Cleveland police, to let them know that her plates had been switched to another car.
“You know the potential anxiety of having to deal with you know, who has my license plate now, you know are they potentially involved in committing crimes in other places, that could link my information and my license plate to that, so there is a snowball effect that goes on with this,” said Chief Naegele.