Police cash in on VIN checks
A state requirement for cars brought from outside the state creates extra income for Marion police regardless of the owner’s hometown.
Anyone who buys a vehicle from out of state, or moves to Marion County with vehicles from another state is required to have a vehicle identification number check.
Some inspections, such as antique that don’t have bills of sale or titles, must be completed by state troopers, Marion police chief Clinton Jeffrey said.
In this county, all other inspections are done by Marion Police Department, as it has done for at least 13 years, Jeffrey said.
He wasn’t on the police department when it began doing the inspections, so he doesn’t know when the agreement for Marion to do them came about.
Inspections cost $20 cash, a fee set by state law.
When the police department does an inspection, $18 of the fee goes to the police department and $2 goes to the state.
The department did 775 inspections during 2021, netting $13,950 put into a special department bank account.
Money in that account is used to buy items such as in-car printers that officers use when issuing citations. It recently was used to buy stop sticks for the department.
It could be used to buy ballistic shields to protect officers if they are in a situation where there is gunfire.
Although some have questioned the time inspections take away from anti-crime patrols, Jeffrey says the program is beneficial.
“This has been a huge asset,” he said. “It helps us upgrade and add equipment.”
A VIN inspection is a simple procedure. A number on the dashboard is matched to a number on the door and to a number on the title. The number is checked also to see whether the car was reported stolen.
Most of the time owners bring vehicles to the police department for inspection, but if a number of vehicles need to be checked, officers will go where the vehicles are.
“About once a week, we go to Hillsboro to do a dealership,” he said.
Last year Hillsboro Ford had a promotion that meant police checked VINs on about 70 Ford Fusions.
The most memorable VIN check was near Burns where a man had purchased 32 five-ton military vehicles. It took about an hour and a half to check them. Most have since been sold to fire departments and as farm equipment.
Last modified Feb. 24, 2022