Champaign police explain where confiscated IDs end up


Jeremy Hu

Students frequently use fake identification cards to access bars on campus. October 19, 2016.

By Lilly Mashayek, Staff Writer

Bars give hundreds of fake IDs to the Champaign Police Department every month, but for those minors who have their ID taken away, that piece of plastic may seem lost forever.

However, most of the IDs wind up in a box in Sergeant Joe Ketchem’s office in downtown Champaign.

There are two ways that police define fake IDs. The first, and the one that constitutes a more severe punishment, is using a fraudulent ID that is not a valid ID in any way.

Listen to reporter Lilly Mashayek explain how she came up with her story idea and the hundreds of IDs that sit in boxes in downtown Champaign. 

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“A fake ID, one that is not valid in any way, shape or form, which is a forgery … is a crime, (and) can be handled as a crime,” said Officer Joel Sanders with Urbana Police.

The second is using a valid ID that belongs to someone else, such a borrowing a friend’s ID who looks similar. Another common practice is doing a “passback,” which is when people in line at the bar pass their ID back to a person behind them.

“If they’re Illinois IDs, we would mail them back to the Secretary of State with a note on how we came across them, and the Secretary of State commonly would then suspend both drivers’ licenses,” Sanders said. “Or at least the one that was given.”

Officer Daniel Ward with Champaign Police said people can be charged with a felony for using an invalid ID.

“Because the law was never intended for students trying to get into bars underage,” he said. “It was intended for people making fake IDs to commit identity theft.”

The Champaign City ordinance that is typically used for students caught with fake IDs consists of a $340 fine and a one-year driver’s license suspension, which Ward said is “much more appropriate.”

“It does everything we’re trying to do,” he said. “It will put out a punitive measure that hopefully hurts a little bit — $340 is a lot for a college student — it gets the word out that this is being investigated, this is being enforced … (and) you’re likely to get the same thing.”

However, Ward said the part of the punishment that hurts students the most is the suspension of their driver’s license.

“So many kids have sat in front of me crying, saying if they knew this is what was gonna happen they never would have done it,” he said.

Since the majority of the invalid IDs are bought online, Ward said, the supply of those IDs “isn’t going away.”

“I’d say 99.9 percent of our fake IDs are coming online from overseas, we have no jurisdiction to enforce that … pretty much the most we can do is get the servers shut down, in which case they pop up a new one,” he said.

Often times when students buy their fake IDs from overseas, they buy two of them because they are less expensive that way, Ward said.

“A lot of kids they’ll get it taken away at one bar, next weekend they’ll try the other one, and I don’t get them both until maybe a week later,” he said. “As long as they’re honest with me, we’ll give them one city ordinance that covers both of them … if you lie … and there’s third one, I explain to them that a city ordinance isn’t going to be an option — we’re going to go criminal.”

Since most of the bars on campus are located in Champaign, most of the fake IDs that are collected fall under the jurisdiction of Champaign Police.

“Just estimating, I would say that I get about a hundred IDs turned into my office from different places each week,” said Officer Joe Ketchem, with Champaign Police, in an email. “This fluctuates if there is a home game, (or) special weekend.”

“Because Champaign was getting this reputation for a party school, last year we were the number one party school in the nation, and fake IDs are an issue here,” Ward said. “We decided that we would try to curtail some of that use.”

Champaign Police want to dissuade students from using fake IDs, he said, or from using them again if they’ve already been caught before.

“If you come here and if you try to use a fake ID, you’re gonna get in trouble,” Ward said.

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