CBS2’s David Goldstein Rides Along With LAPD Unit Cracking Down On Disabled Placard Misuse

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles police are cracking down on the misuse of disabled parking placards.

“I’m checking everyone’s handicapped placard,” said LAPD officer Dean Schram to a shopper at Fashion Square Mall in Sherman Oaks during a recent sting.

Schram and his partner are part of a police crackdown on the misuse of disabled placards and CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein went along for the ride.

“There are so many people,” said one shopper on this day. “I don’t know where they get those things.”

But police know.

There are about 500 confiscated placards in just seven months in Schram’s “hall of shame.”

Some of the confiscated placards are made of paper, while others are counterfeit, or from out of state.

There are even placards where people play a cat-and-mouse game to try and extend the expiration date.

“If you turn that placard over, he changed the date to 2015,” from 2011, said the officer.

Even in instances were a placard is legitimate, people cannot use it unless the disabled person is in the car.

But police hear all kinds of stories at shopping areas, like one from a girl who had her dad’s placard.

“I go, ‘where’s your dad at?’ ” said Schram, while she replied: “Well, my dad is inside Costco with my boyfriend shopping.”

“And I go, ‘Really, your dad is inside Costco shopping?’ I had already run the placard and know the owner passed away,” Schram said.

In the past, CBS2 has reported on placard abuse.

In one report last year, the station uncovered people selling them on Craigslist. In a second, car service drivers were caught using them to get choice spots at LAX.

LAPD Sgt. Mike Zaboski heads up the unit.

“I’m sure they think it’s a victim-less crime,” he said. “However, the victim ends up being the person who is legitimately disabled.”

It took about two hours and police checking between 15 to 20 cars until they finally hit pay dirt.

The officers had been looking at a woman’s car, which was parked at an angle in a disabled spot. When they got her driver’s license, they ran the placard.

“That’s who owns the placard but that’s not her. Same last name but different first name so she’s using someone else’s placard,” said an officer.

The woman said it was her sister’s placard and she dropped her off at the mall, but officers were skeptical.

She finally admitted she didn’t come with her sister but parking in the disabled spot for convenience cost her big time, well more than the minimum.

“Yeah, $700,” said Schram.

She got two tickets: one for not having a placard and one for illegally using someone else’s.

Though the sting was conducted in the Valley, police say they’re doing it in other parts of L.A. as well.

More from David Goldstein
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