There's a crazy, mysterious phenomenon being experienced by western Iowa residents in Pottawattamie County. Expired license plates they turned in years ago are being cited for traffic violations--in a place, they've never been.

KCRG posted a story from WOWT, who talked to both Kathy Baker and Barbara Brown. In Baker's case, the license plate once registered to her company was on a vehicle caught on camera in New York City going 15 mph over the speed limit. It was going to cost her $50, except she knew she hadn't used that Iowa license plate since 2009 when she exchanged it for a new one at the Pottawattamie County treasurer's office.

It's a similar story for Brown, who was cited for a traffic violation, in New York, on a plate she turned in back in 2014. The county treasurer says they've had about 10-15 other such instances reported. After working with officials in New York to investigate, they may have found a couple of answers to this mystery.

Most of the plates being cited are from 2010-12. At the time, some were donated to an out-of-state charity to scrap and pay for child car seats. Since that program ended nearly 10 years ago, all old plates now get picked up by Iowa Prison Industries.

Another explanation might have to do with the policy Iowa has of mailing out license plates. Could anything go wrong through the process of mailing anything, let alone license plates? Nah. (Sarcasm). Lea Voss also tells them how to properly dispose of the plates.

They need to cut them in half; they need to melt them, she said. “They need to do something. You don’t put a license plate on your car that belongs to somebody else

It's likely the main issue is improper disposal and, you guessed it, they might be getting into the hands of someone using them illegally. She once found an old Iowa license plate being sold on eBay! Bingo!

Barbara Brown says that while she was worried about having to pay the fine she didn't personally incur, she was also worried about what could happen if the driver of the vehicle with her expired and now illegal plate did something worse than just speeding.

New York City DOT officials told WOWT her violation notice had been dismissed after they investigated and found it attached to the wrong car. Let's hope more of these cases end up with the same outcome.

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