updated 6/4/2008 3:22:28 PM ET 2008-06-04T19:22:28

A remorseful American surprised German police by mailing them $100 to cover a 12-year-old parking fine.

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Officers in the western city of Cologne said Wednesday that the woman confessed in a handwritten letter that she ignored a 50-mark ticket — about $40 — incurred during an August 1996 visit.

"Dear Cologne police," she wrote in German, explaining that she had not understood the local parking rules and had been annoyed by the fine — but "now I want to pay the parking ticket."

She enclosed a $100 traveler's check payable to the city of Cologne.

"I feel better now — thank you," concluded her letter, mailed from Draper, Utah.

Statute of limitations
Police said they sent a response thanking the woman, whom they identified as Julie H., for the letter — and returned the check.

They said it was impossible to figure out exactly where the woman had left her rented car during her family's 1996 vacation, and she had forgotten the name of the car rental company.

In any case, they added, the statute of limitations on the offense expired 11 years ago.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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