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Author Topic: Got Ham License Plates? READ THIS!  (Read 6835 times)
K1CJS
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Posts: 5998




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« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2011, 04:49:28 AM »

Not in CA, only LE can look up plates....

...But you're right, you can find someone pretty easily these days anyway....


You're right, but you're also wrong.  Only the LE people can look up plates DIRECTLY in the RMV database, but there are other ways into that database as well.  Cities and towns have to have access to do the registry and tax collection business, and courts and their officers have to have access for matters of the law.  Insurance companies have access so they can flag cars who do not carry the required insurance.  There are so many ways into that database that it isn't funny--and that includes people who sell information.

If a person is determined to get the owners of a car with the plate number from that car, they're going to get it by hook or crook--and some of those crooks are the very ones who are trusted with access to that information.

Finally, it used to be possible to have an unlisted phone number.  Now it's IMpossible.  If you get a phone number and give it out to just ONE place of business, it isn't unlisted anymore--even if that place of business says they don't give out info like that.  Sometimes even THAT isn't required--the phone companies open their databases to certain other companies, and THOSE companies don't care if that information gets out!  

That is how pervasive--and invasive--the computer has become in today's society.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 04:52:41 AM by K1CJS » Logged
N2LWE
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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2011, 05:41:19 AM »

I certainly can understand your frustration over nine patrol cars responding to your traffic stop and this may be something as minor as the dispatcher typing the wrong information by just one character. I don't know. I can also understand how civilians (please don't think I'm demeaning you, I'm not) think they understand police work when they really don't. I'm also a police officer for over twenty years and cannot keep count of the times myself, or other officers in my department have made a motor vehicle stop with a plate that came back "no record" "not on file" or simply expired and what seemed like a situation that should be resolved quickly, became very ugly real quick. So when I stop a motorist for a similar situation and if there are other patrol cars in the area for whatever reason and they decide to back me up, I welcome every one of them. Once the situation is determined to be safe they can all go back on patrol. I have personally been involved in situations where the motorist simply didn't have their credentials such as their registration card or insurance card in their possession and jumped out of their vehicle and attacked me simply because they didn't want a summons. BELIEVE IT OR NOT. So, now they get arrested, criminal charges for assault on a police officer their vehicle impounded and still receive the motor vehicle summons. BELIEVE IT OR NOT. So I welcome all the backup available.
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W3LK
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Posts: 5644




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« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2011, 06:48:12 AM »

That said, I have had call sign tags for several years and the only people who pay attention to them are other hams.

The only reason I don't have one is because I don't want people looking up my callsign and contacting me directly to complain about the fact I passed them on a double yellow after watching them screw around with their phone for a few miles....

I've had call sign tags for over 10 years. Never had that happen in over 250,000 miles. I seriously doubt anyone has ever had that happen.

Personally, in that circumstance I'd worry more about having ahead-on collision that someone reading my call sign tags. Smiley

I never cease to be amazed at the level of paranoia of people.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 06:51:26 AM by W3LK » Logged

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AC4RD
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« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2011, 09:15:07 AM »

I've had call sign tags for over 10 years. Never had that happen in over 250,000 miles. I seriously doubt anyone has ever had that happen.

I've had ham plates for 20 years, and when people ask at all, they ask "What does 'ac4rd' stand for?"  If I explain about FCC licenses and callsigns, they almost always say, "Oh, it's a CB radio thing?" 

Sad to say, but it seems that almost nobody I run into in the non-ham world has much understanding of what amateur radio is, except for the very few who have relatives who are or were hams.
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KB1TXK
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« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2011, 10:12:21 AM »

I never cease to be amazed at the level of paranoia of people.

You don't know me enough to assume my level of paranoia, however I do recognize what you are trying to say with that comment.    Smiley
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W3LK
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2011, 10:27:05 AM »

I never cease to be amazed at the level of paranoia of people.

You don't know me enough to assume my level of paranoia, however I do recognize what you are trying to say with that comment.    Smiley


It's certainly about 500 percent higher than mine. <gg>
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W5DQ
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« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2011, 11:03:12 AM »

That said, I have had call sign tags for several years and the only people who pay attention to them are other hams.

The only reason I don't have one is because I don't want people looking up my callsign and contacting me directly to complain about the fact I passed them on a double yellow after watching them screw around with their phone for a few miles....

I guess that would be possible but I have had the exact opposite happen to me. A few years ago I was traveling back east on I40 and passed thru Albuquerque, NM. It was very early in the morning, around 4AM when I rolled thru town and when I reached my final destination the next day I had a nice email from a local NM ham who had seen me going thru town. We struck up a dialog and became friends and still keep in touch with one another to this day. I suppose he could have found my QTH address (I was transmitting my GPS coords via APRS on that trip as an experiment) and traveled back to California while I was gone and robbed my house but he didn't Smiley

IMHO I feel less secure from data given to the IRS, the census bureau and other Gov't acencies given the number of lost and stolen databases in the recent years than I do having ham car tags.

73

Gene W5DQ

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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
KH6DC
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Posts: 639




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« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2011, 04:08:41 PM »

I went vanity last year in April 2010 and changed from my FCC assigend callsign of AH6OK to KH6DC (KH6 for old style Hawaii designation and DC for my first and last intials).  Got DMV call plates back in 1994 which they mispelled AH60K.  Didn't realize it until a police office was running random checks at a DUI/seatbelt driver checkpoint.  He thought it was "ahhhhh" 60K meaning I hit the $60,000 pay level.

73, Delwyn KH6DC
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73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
TKENDALL
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2011, 06:12:07 PM »

As a general matter, I wonder how often that happens, not that there would be any reliable way to collect that kind of data though.

Probably so close to never as to be a non-issue. Besides, that's what I carry insurance for.

That said, I have had call sign tags for several years and the only people who pay attention to them are other hams. I have four antennas on my current vehicle, a cell phone, a dual band, a 6m base loaded whip and a High Sierra screwdriver. The control heads are in plain sight on the dash. I've driven, parked or lived in 14 states with this setup and no one has ever bothered the vehicle or the antennas, including in NYC, Atlanta, Baltimore and a few other crime-ridden cities. I've left the vehicle in airport parking garages, the latest just last month, for up to two weeks and never had it bothered.

I've had radios of one kind or another in vehickles for the last 40 years and have yet to have one bothered. Lots of unfounded paranoia in the amateur community, IMHO.

Agreed. Probably a very slim chance that would happen (I doubt some thug would even know how to look up a ham call).

On the other hand, I'd hardly call people worrying about their cars being touched/broken into especially with radio gear in plain gear "unfounded paranoia" . I'd really chalk that up to a lot of luck and really is the exception and not the norm (But I am happy for you that you never had any problems). My son lives in Chicago in an apartment (look up zip code 60626) in a fairly questionable neighborhood and I can almost guarantee you, that at some point, if you were to park your vehicle in that neighborhood you would sustain some damages and most likely total loss of your gear. These are people that break into cars to steal a $20 CD player, even just loose coins. In fact, the police dept routinely sends out bulletins warning owners to not leave ANYTHING of value in the car, even loose power cords. GPS units are a huge target, as well are the electronic "I-Pass" tollway toll collection devices, believe it or not.

And it is not just limited to the big city. You would be amazed at the reports of auto breakins in the NW Suburbs of Chicago, just as an example. Some very affluent and nice communities in those areas of suburbia (60005, 60090) see auto breakin after another (from local police blotters). They may have much less violent crime, but there is plenty of "non-violent" crime going on. My Daughter used to live in one of those communities in a nice, quiet condo complex and had her car keyed once and in the same night four other cars were broken into. Her friend lived in the same complex and knew someone that had their car broken into...and stole the stock factory radio.

Could you imagine how attractive your ham gear might be to one of these thugs if they get excited over a few bucks in change, a crappy GPS unit, or a stock car radio?

I had a friend many many years ago (late 70s) that had a nice mobile Motorola 2m rig (with the rig in the back and the control heads up front). I don't remember what model but I'm sure many will remember the old beige control heads with the big black knobs for vol and SQL - he parked his car in a friends driveway in another one of those expensive suburbia areas (60074), went inside for about 30 minutes, came out and found the window popped and the control heads and mic gone. Rig was there, just the control heads gone. To this day every time I hear the words "Control Head" this incident comes to mind.
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KB7QND
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2011, 06:39:37 PM »

That's really not that unusual.  

I was a career full-time dispatcher for the Arizona Highway Patrol and I've remained with them as a reserve dispatcher for the last 7 years now.

Nearly every state has hidden characters attached their plate numbers.  Your standard issue plate does not, but many, many of the vanity type plates do.  What I mean by hidden characters is that there are characters associated with your plate that are not printed on your plate.  The motor vehicle division will issue blocks of number/letter sequences for each type of vanity plate for two reasons.  The first is for sequencing for that type of vanity plate where the computer system will recognize the "hidden" or first character which identifies the type of plate and then issues the plate with the next number/letter sequence.  The other reason is that graphic artwork makes it impossible to include the character on the plate.  

I've ran numerous plates through MVD and NCIC where the officer did not tell me that it was a special plate and had the plate come back "no record found."  In all those cases, the officer would immediately provide a VIN to run which would always return matching the plate on the vehicle.

Some states have plates with characters on them that you don't run.  There are states with things like T over D or S over V before the main characters that identify the license county or something else, but you don't run them in some states and in other states you do.  Out of state plates can be a pain and I always hated running them, especially commercial vehicle plates and trailer plates (some states have TL on the plate where you run it and other states you don't...confusing, yes.), but that is why, as a dispatcher, you should be fully versed in accessing the NCIC Help File to help you run the plate.  Generally, I would run the plate as given, if I got a funky return, I would immediately ask for the VIN while checking the Help File.  But dispatchers only know as much as what an officer tells them. 

Now here in Arizona, our HAM plate has no hidden characters.  What's on the plate is the only thing you'll run in NCIC.  But other plates do; for example, collegiate plates.  Arizona State University plates have a hidden "B" in front of the displayed characters because their logo takes the space.  That is a throw back to when AZ had a six digit plates, their logo covered what would have been the sixth digit, so MVD gave the plate the B for the sixth digit and for the plate identifier in their system. Arizona veteran's plates can be run three ways depending on the age of the plate; such as V over T before the plate characters, V over T after the plate characters, or no V over T at all.  

Your problem really isn't with law enforcement, unless the MVD for that state is run by the State's law enforcement agency.  Here in Arizona, our MVD is not part of the State Police, so we are at their mercy for how they enter things.  And, they enter things only for the benefit of their own databases, not for the ease of law enforcement.  Back to the ASU plate example, if you run the plate without the hidden B, the characters on the plate are also in use on the standard issue plate....yes...you are correct, there are in some cases two vehicles out there with the exact same plate characters with the only difference being that one is a vanity collegiate plate.  I've run many of those ASU plates, not knowing they were ASU plates and had the return come back on a completely different vehicle which leads to an investigatory traffic stop.  Some officers just aren't always keyed in on providing us those details.  

Now the number of patrol cars that joined in your stop seem excessive, and it should have been cleared very quickly by running the VIN...so I have no answers for you there.  But your California HAM plate looks the same as the regular plate, so he would really have no way of knowing what it was.

Now for the guy in Texas who has the same number plate on multiple vehicles, I guarantee you that your MVD is using hidden characters.

At my agency, officers are given little to no training on how to run plates....we just throw a MDC in their car and tell them to go at it.  We tried to get a more comprehensive radio communications/data class into their basic academy or advanced academies and were always turned down.  We always found it odd and perplexing that with all the training they are given for the tools on their belts that radio communications/MDC data entry and interpretation of the NCIC returns was a "just wing it" affair to the officers.  I wish we would not have given them MDCs because they constantly call us to ask "I don't understand this return can you run it and tell me."  One agency got bit in the butt last year when a line of duty death resulted in a suspect pursuit outside their town's radio range.  They had new high tech radios in their car but the guys with the badges refused radio training (for some reason officers just don't view it as important...go figure).  They learned their lesson when they were out of range and had no idea how to switch their radios over to Interagency for assistance leaving them high and dry for assistance when assistance was only a few button pushes away.  I should step off my soapbox now.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 07:05:54 PM by KB7QND » Logged
W3LK
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« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2011, 07:21:42 AM »

My son lives in Chicago in an apartment (look up zip code 60626) in a fairly questionable neighborhood and I can almost guarantee you, that at some point, if you were to park your vehicle in that neighborhood you would sustain some damages and most likely total loss of your gear. These are people that break into cars to steal a $20 CD player, even just loose coins. In fact, the police dept routinely sends out bulletins warning owners to not leave ANYTHING of value in the car, even loose power cords. GPS units are a huge target, as well are the electronic "I-Pass" tollway toll collection devices, believe it or not.

Chicago is a cesspool. I've been there several times and I have yet to see a neighborhood that wasn't "questionable". If one chooses to live in such a neighborhood ...

As for my vehicle getting broken into, if it ever happens that's what I have insurance for. Also I don't leave things "loose" in my vehicle. Everything is securely fastened down.
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AA4HA
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« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2011, 09:33:16 AM »

I was stopped in the middle of Louisiana by a Sheriff's deputy on I-20. He could not figure out what state I had on my tags as the amateur radio license plate frame partially obscured the name. What made it difficult for him is that it was a "Alabama, Forever Wild" tag (land preservation) and was a forest scene as the backdrop. He pulled me over, real nice guy, asked to see my license, registration, insurance, etc...

I "could not find" my license. I did not know it at the time but I lost it at the airport security screening point a few weeks earlier. Frantically tearing my purse apart, dumping stuff on the seat... I was really flustered, the only "license" I could produce was my amateur radio license and concealed carry permit. He laughed, ran my name and tag information, came back with a description of me, came back to the car. I was thinking "great, now I will go to jail in Louisiana". Handed me my stuff back, said "just get that taken care of" and let me go on my way without a ticket or warning.

He asked about all of the antennas (back deck of the car looks like a porcupine with 2 m, 6 m and 70 cm antennas stuck on it) explained that I was an amateur radio operator.

Being super polite, taking the keys out of the ignition and putting them on the dash, rolling down the rear window blind (one of those electric ones), hazard lights, hands resting on top of the steering wheel, rolling the windows down, asking before reaching for or doing anything and pulling way over into the grass made him comfortable. My brother is in law enforcement and I know the stresses they are under, anything to ease their anxiety is a good thing.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
KG4LMZ
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« Reply #27 on: July 20, 2011, 01:54:48 PM »

...  anything to ease their [police officers on a traffic stop] anxiety is a good thing.

Especially when I'm exercising my concealed carry license.  Grin
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TKENDALL
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« Reply #28 on: July 22, 2011, 10:47:36 AM »

My son lives in Chicago in an apartment (look up zip code 60626) in a fairly questionable neighborhood and I can almost guarantee you, that at some point, if you were to park your vehicle in that neighborhood you would sustain some damages and most likely total loss of your gear. These are people that break into cars to steal a $20 CD player, even just loose coins. In fact, the police dept routinely sends out bulletins warning owners to not leave ANYTHING of value in the car, even loose power cords. GPS units are a huge target, as well are the electronic "I-Pass" tollway toll collection devices, believe it or not.

Chicago is a cesspool. I've been there several times and I have yet to see a neighborhood that wasn't "questionable". If one chooses to live in such a neighborhood ...

As for my vehicle getting broken into, if it ever happens that's what I have insurance for. Also I don't leave things "loose" in my vehicle. Everything is securely fastened down.

Yeah, Chicago sucks (I'd know I used to live there, I couldn't walk across the street to the 7-11 without being bothered for money at least once). I agree, having everything fastened down cuts down the risk. Also it makes for a quality installation, which you just cannot beat. Crime can happen any where, it is very refreshing in my area where people rarely lock their doors and pull up to the local store and leave their cars running!
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KF7PKL
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« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2011, 05:41:23 PM »

I'm a Highway Patrol officer here in AZ and we do run into some issues with some plates.  Usually, it is because I did not run the plate correctly on the MDC.  But then I have dispatch run the plate as well then.  If still no record, I run it by VIN.  Normally, the correct plate is listed on the registration paperwork and that is how it should be run.

73's

Davis KF7PKL
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