Criminal Justice

Quirk in New York law makes older and heavier cars attractive to thieves


Auto thefts in New York City have increased in the last few months after two decades of decline.

Thieves are focusing on older, heavier vehicles, the New York Times reports, because “a quirk in state law allows older, nearly worthless vehicles to be sold as junk with the barest of paperwork.”

Car thefts in New York City increased 12 percent through March 23 this year, compared to the same period last year. Ford Econoline vans are particularly popular. They can weigh more than 5,000 pounds, bringing $600 or $700 in the scrap market.

To discourage vehicle abandonment, a state law was changed three decades ago to allow people to junk cars more than eight years old and worth less than $1,250 without having the title. Proof of ownership can be shown with a Department of Motor Vehicles form and a valid ID.

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