2/20/2006New Haven, CT Expands Car Confiscation Program
New Haven, Connecticut looking to make $9.5 million this year by seizing automobiles.
Desperate to generate revenue, city officials in New Haven, Connecticut have expanded the BootFinder car confiscation program. The city will now use the camera system to search public streets and seize any vehicle if the computer database suggests the owner has $200 in outstanding parking tickets. In 2004, the system made $2.5 million for the city by grabbing cars if a database showed the owner was behind on property taxes.
A New Haven Register reporter accompanied State Marshal Jerry Juliano on the first day of seizures under the new rules. An elderly man in a walker barely escaped being stranded for $216 in parking tickets because he drove away in his Toyota Camry just before the tow truck could take his car.
Similarly, a young mother with three small children also narrowly escaped, driving away in her Dodge Durango just before tow trucks could strand her. The 2002 Chevy Malibu belonging to John Gomez, 42, was flagged for towing as the system showed he owed $208.53 -- just as he was leaving City Hall with a "paid in full" receipt in his pocket. Gomez had placed a sign on his window, "Please don't tow -- paying tax now."
"If you're inside paying your taxes, who's to say they won't snatch you up while you're in there," Gomez told the New Haven Register. "I believe I have to pay my taxes, don't get me wrong. But what if I wasn't working? I'm lucky. I have a family and means to pay. Not everyone is so lucky."
The owner of a Buick Regal almost had his car grabbed because the BootFinder said the owner hadn't paid $240 in tickets, while Traffic and Parking department records showed he only owed $90. The city Tax Collector had no explanation for the system's inaccuracy.
Last Friday, without a reporter along, the BootFinder grabbed eight cars based on a total claim of just $2600 in unpaid tickets.