Auto thieves' new target: vehicle inspection stickers

Inspection sticker theft is on the rise. Could you be the next victim?

Vehicle inspection stickers can be easily removed from your inside windshield. An auto thief just needs access to your car to quickly swipe the state inspection sticker. These stickers fetch a high price on the black market and are common targets because they are easy to steal.

The priority of the HEAT program is to give individuals the tools necessary to help prevent auto theft. This includes the stealing of vehicle information, like inspection stickers, and so it is important for citizens to know how to prevent their car’s unique inspection stickers from being stolen.

What is sticker theft?

Sticker theft is the removal of a vehicle’s inspection sticker from the inside windshield. These stickers are easily accessible and have become a common target of auto thieves. These stickers are not only easy to steal, but also difficult to replace. Even with a new inspection sticker, the stolen one is still active and could be used on another individual’s car.

How does sticker theft occur?

Sticker theft can occur at any place your vehicle is parked, from outside your home to a public parking lot. Inspection sticker theft is a common crime, often in urban areas. Auto thieves will target vehicles that are easily accessible, for example through an open window or unlocked door. After gaining access to the vehicle, the thief will then peel the sticker from the windshield and take it off the property. Thieves will also target auto body shops who offer state inspections as the stickers are kept in large quantities and can garner a higher resale value.

Once the sticker has been removed and taken from the scene, thieves are likely to resell it to individuals whose vehicles are not street legal, including stolen cars or vehicles that have failed inspection or need expensive body work done. This sale is usually done on the black market to individuals who cannot afford to pay for expensive repairs to pass inspection or those who possess a stolen vehicle.

How can you avoid having your inspection sticker stolen?

There are simple ways to prevent your vehicle inspection sticker from being stolen. The first is to lock all of your vehicle’s doors when you are not in the car and to make sure all windows are rolled up. This will make your vehicle less accessible and not as attractive to auto thieves in search of inspection stickers.

Another way to prevent this theft is to make a cut through the sticker. This can be done with a pair of scissors, or a small knife. If the sticker is slashed, it will make it harder for thieves to steal as it will not peel off in one piece, rendering the sticker useless.

By completing both of these prevention measures, your car will become less of a target for auto theft. Remember, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to always check your vehicle for stolen information.

What to do if your inspection sticker is stolen?

If your inspection sticker is stolen, contact the Safety Division of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to document the theft and replace your inspection sticker.

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