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Forget The Car Stereo; They Want The Inspection Sticker

November 14, 1993

BOSTON (AP) _ When thieves break car windshields, they may not be going for expensive car stereos or cellular phones.

They may want the inspection sticker.

Boston-area auto glass shops say in the past several months there has been an increase in the number of customers needing new windshields because their stickers were stolen.

″Just a big hole in the corner of the windshield where the sticker was. It’s like they’re using a hammer and a chisel,″ said Harvard Glass manager Tony Padula. ″And they seem to be smart enough to use gloves. I haven’t seen any blood yet.″

Car inspections are required to drive legally in Massachusetts. Although they only cost $15, thieves take them to use on cars that are stolen, unregistered or wouldn’t pass inspection.

When the inspection stickers are removed from a windshield, the word ″void″ is supposed to automatically appear. But auto glass repairmen speculate that thieves have special ways to soak off the stickers so the word remains invisible.

Julie Murray, manager of vehicle inspections for Massachusetts, said 4 million inspection stickers are issued each year. This makes the dozen or so complaints she hears about stolen stickers seem ″minuscule.″

But in the glass shops, the numbers seem to be growing. Alliance Glass Corp. owner Stephen Libman said until a few months ago he rarely saw the mark of the sticker thief. Lately, he’s been seeing about one a week.

″We have one poor guy, had it two or three times done. They must love his stickers,″ Libman said.

That man was indeed unfortunate. Each time his sticker was stolen, he had to have his car reinspected.

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