Man Says Thieves Stole License Plate, Installed Stolen One On His Vehicle

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Rudy Caveda and his wife had just finished visiting his parents in north Columbus and were heading to their home in Blacklick Sunday evening.

All of a sudden, Rudy says he heard a siren and saw flashing blue and red lights all around hime.

"I've never seen anything like this before,” Caveda said.  “Only in the movies, man, only in the movies!"

Caveda says about 10 Columbus police cruisers surrounded him along Morse Road as he was getting ready to pull onto Interstate 270.

"There was one up front, one on the side, officers with their guns drawn, pointing right at us,” he said.

He says he and his wife put their hands up as they sat in a panic inside their red Toyota Camry.

"I have never had a gun pointed at me like that in my life,” he said.  “I was like, I didn't know what to do."

"They were just saying keep your hands up where I can see them, keep them up!" he said.

It turns out the police thought Caveda’s was in a stolen car -- the same color, make and model as his.

Someone stole the Caveda's license plates right off their car and switched them with a stolen car's plates, without them ever knowing, the resident said.

The cops checked Caveda’s registration card and car’s VIN number and quickly knew they had a case of mistaken identity -- and the wrong car.

The armed traffic stop was over as fast as it had begun.

"They just said false alarm, and everybody was out of the place, gone," Caveda said.

The victim told 10TV a few days ago when he was checking his tires, he noticed the screws holding his plates in place were loose, but he did not think anything of it.

He said he had no idea when or where his plates were switched.

"I was the bait for these guys, know what I mean?" Caveda said.

Caveda contacted 10TV because he says he does not want anyone else to have to go through what he and his wife experienced.

”From now on, I'm going to memorize my plates and every time I get in my car, I'm going to be looking at them, to make sure they're the right ones,” he said.  “I don't want this to happen again."

One local police chief with many years of experience told 10TV News this is not the first time this has happened but is not all that common.

People who steal cars and switch plates to get cops off their tails can do it anywhere - when you're shopping in a store or walking in a park, away from your car.

Even your driveway is not safe.

Police say it’s a good habit to know your license plate number and to check your plates often.

Unfortunately for Caveda, he had to buy new plates today.

Watch 10TV News and refresh for more information.