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Report: Lost or stolen registration stickers cost state $560K

Central Florida Tage Agency
Central Florida Tag Agency
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Updated: 7/11/2013 9:01 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- More than 248,000 registration stickers have either been lost or stolen off vehicles in Florida since 2008.

The State of Florida said it has no plans to change its tags, while some states have completely eliminated the registration stickers and other have moved the tags to the inside windshield.

The Sanford police have investigated more than 75 cases of license plate sticker theft in the first six months of 2013.

People take the stickers for a number of reasons, police said, but they are usually targeted by criminals who will swipe the stickers and place them on stolen vehicles.

"A stolen registration sticker carefully peeled off the plate's corner, goes for $25 or more, and $100 can buy you a good registration sticker and a counterfeit inspection sticker," according to a 2010 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania report.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will cover the cost of stolen stickers only if the person files a police report.

Almost 14,000 people turned in a police report for sticker replacement, costing the state $560,000 in lost revenue and replacement costs in 2012.

If all 46,121 people who reported missing stickers were to file a police report and qualify for a free replacement sticker, the cost to the state would be in excess of $1.8 million.

New York, Texas, and Washington, D.C. have replaced the license plate stickers with windshield stickers while New Jersey and Connecticut have eliminated the stickers completely.

More than 150,000 license plate stickers were stolen in Texas, costing the state $1.8 million in 1992. Texas replaced the license plate stickers with a windshield sticker the next year, saving the state more than a million dollars in replacement costs.

When asked about the number of stolen stickers, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued this statement from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators saying, "It is recommended that the date of registration expiration be displayed by means of a retro‐reflective validating sticker on the rear license plate."

The Florida DMV says while it is aware of the number of lost or stolen stickers, it currently has no plans to change or eliminate the registration stickers.

A 2008 study conducted by American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators found the primary reason states were hesitant to remove the plate stickers had to do with law enforcement. Many states told the AAMVA that the stickers were necessary for police to quickly check registration and give officers probable cause to stop vehicles. In states where stickers have been moved to the front windshield, or eliminated, officers instead are able to check registration by entering in the license plate number.

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