WASHINGTON — Every time Catherine Brenner opens her laptop and checks her DC DMV ticket portal, she finds 10 unresolved tickets staring back at her.
Some of the tickets are for red light cameras, others for speed cameras, and one for a parking violation. That's not the worst part.
“I am not the driver in any of these photos,” she said staring at the list.
That’s because when her Honda Civic racked up all these fines, a thief was behind the wheel.
Her traffic ticket saga started over the summer.
It was a sunny June Saturday. Catherine had just come home from playing an intramural sport on the National Mall. She was going to drive somewhere.
“I just walked back behind my building, and I looked and my car wasn't there,” she said.
Catherine said her pulse started racing as she ran to the front of the street; in case she left her car there. But, no car.
As panic set in, her HOA president sent her security camera video. There it was: In the middle of the day a man breaks into her car, hotwires it, and then takes off. All in the less than three minutes.
“It was just like a knife to the heart,” she remembered.
Immediately she filed a police report and signed up for ticket alerts from the DC DMV. Nine days later, she got her first alert. It was for a parking violation along Harvard Road in Columbia Heights.
“I went to that block myself to look to see if maybe my car was still there,” she said. “Sadly, it wasn't. But then I found it within 48 hours of that ticket.”
That's right. She found her own car. Catherine was walking in the same area two days later. It had $7,000 worth of damage. Inside there were clothes, cigarette burns, even a bullet casing.
There was no telling where the car had been, but then the paper trail started.
“Once I got that first ticket, five other tickets came through via email later that day,” she said.
Followed by four more. In total 10 tickets over 10 days totaling $1,750. A combination of speed camera, red light camera, and parking tickets. All sent to her.
“The detective I've been working with specifically said I could contest all the tickets, and they would all be removed from my account, so I wouldn't have to worry about it,” she explained.
Catherine went onto the DC DMV’s ticket contesting site. She added the police report and information, then filled out her online contesting form.
“It has since been three months, and only one of them has been taken off my account” she explained with an exasperated look on her face.
That is where we picked it up. We called and emailed the DC DMV. WUSA9 asked why the tickets hadn’t been cleared.
A spokesperson said they would get back to us and asked for Catherine’s information. We sent that over immediately, but still haven’t gotten an explanation for the oversight.
Within a day of our email, suddenly four of the tickets have been dropped. That still leaves five more in limbo.
“I feel like this is just like haunting and hanging about me this entire time,” she said. “And I just really want it to go away.”