Secretary of State Police were out in force Thursday to begin cracking down on disabled parking abuse in downtown Chicago.
Officers checked placards and license plates to verify the placards actually belonged to the driver. In some cases, they were fabricated or photocopied to mimic the real thing.
"We asked for information to verify that indeed they are the placard holder, and of course if they're not, then we have to take enforcement action," said Secretary of State Police investigator Glenn Florkow.
"They're stealing from the taxpayers and they're denying individuals who are truly disabled an opportunity to park their vehicle," said Secretary of State Jesse White.
The operation, a joint effort with Chicago Police, precedes a city ordinance taking effect Jan. 29. The ordinance says those who illegally use disability placards risk their vehicle being impounded and a fine of up to $3,000.
Investigators say the city has received a lot of complaints.
"I think it's a good thing, because the people who really need it, they need those spots," said Monica Turner, who supports the crackdown. "So if they're taken, then what are they gonna do?"
"I see it all the time, especially around the holidays," Turner said.
Police issued tickets and confiscated fake placards. A violation could cost $500 and a suspended license.
"I think it definitely will send a strong message that this abuse will no longer be tolerated," Florkow said.