5/1/2005Bridgeport, CT to Begin Using Bootfinder Bounty Hunters
Connecticut's largest city to confiscate cars for just $100 in back taxes.
Later this month, the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut will become the third US city to deploy Bootfinder, a digital camera connected to a laptop that is capable of scanning license plates at high-speed. The system checks the plates against a list of owners whom the city databases believe owe back taxes. If there's a match, the city will confiscate the car.
"The whole point is to raise revenue," said Bridgeport Councilman Thomas McCarthy.
Bridgeport has already trained four state marshals to operate the device. They will scan parking lots not only within the city, but in nearby towns as well. The city will confiscate a car -- no matter its value -- if they believe the owner owes just $100 in unpaid vehicle taxes. The system will later expand to cover parking tickets. In Arlington, Virginia officials say any money owed "is fair game" and will even confiscate cars for overdue library books. If the owner doesn't pay the back taxes and additional fees to have the car returned, the city will auction the vehicle.
The marshals receive a 10 percent bounty on everything they collect, and the vendor receives a $7.50 for each hit as well. The marshals have said they will work seven days a week at all hours scanning cars.
In its first six months, the city of New Haven made $1 million from their program by confiscating 1,800 cars. One woman had her Dodge Neon towed right out of her driveway while she was in the kitchen. She only owed $85 in back taxes.
"We will be working seven days a week. But we are not pinpointing anyone special," [Charles Valentino, a state marshal,] said. Asked how he will juggle his marshal duties and the Bootfinder assignment, Valentino said he's up early and goes to bed late.Source: Bootfinder' car tax collection system starts in Bridgeport (Connecticut Post, 5/1/2005)
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