DMV changes sticker rules

To combat an increase in the theft of registration stickers from automobiles, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles will begin requiring the stickers to be placed on the inside of windshields next month, following an initiative first proposed by city officials in New Haven.

The new registration stickers, commissioned by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, will be placed inside the front windshield of vehicles rather than on license plates. The new regulations were initially proposed by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and New Haven Police Chief Francisco Ortiz last January as a way to reduce sticker theft — also known as insert theft — DeStefano spokesman Derek Slap said.

“The motivation is that motor vehicle theft, license plate theft and insert theft is a big quality of life issue in the city,” Slap said. “It accounts for a large percent of the larcenies and more than 10 percent of overall crime in the city.”

DeStefano proposed the measure after it demonstrated success in other states such as New York, Slap said.

Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten said he thinks the measure will help eliminate the theft of registration stickers, which he said has grown only recently.

“People have always stolen plates off of cars, but stealing stickers is a relatively recent phenomenon,” he said. “Over the past few years, there’s been an increasing problem with stealing the stickers off of plates and even mutilating the plates to get these stickers.”

Because purchasing car insurance has become more costly in recent years, Slap said some people who cannot afford high premiums may resort to stealing registration stickers instead of paying for insurance and legally obtaining a sticker.

New Haven Police Department spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said the task force, which included both city and police officials, found that the theft of license plates and registration stickers comprised approximately 28 percent of larcenies reported to the NHPD between Jul. 31 and Nov. 12. Statistics released by the NHPD show that 30 license plate and sticker registration thefts were reported last week alone.

Patten said that although registration sticker theft is usually reported to the YPD, not much can be done to recover the sticker.

Still, he said the YPD would generate to allow victims of car theft to obtain replacement stickers from the DMV without paying the normal replacement fine.

DeStefano first recommended the creation of a task force including both city and police officials to study the incidence rates of sticker theft in an April letter to DMV Commissioner Ralph Carpenter.

Although both lawmakers and local politicians are calling the new measure an innovative approach to address the growing problem of sticker and plate theft, some Yale students said the new stickers are an obvious solution.

“It seems like it’s common sense to me,” Myles Campbell ’06 said. “I can’t imagine people would be desperate enough to break into a car to get the stickers.”

But Patten said even the most basic solutions to crime problems sometimes take a long time to get turned into legislation.

“That’s bureaucracy for you,” Patten said. “Nothing good happens fast.”

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