Thursday, April 03, 2008

Creative Criminals

I can’t say I approve of the many and varied schemes which the State uses to appropriate money from the citizenry. Often times the “claimed” purpose of making the world a safer place is only a ruse to obtain additional money. I’ll use for my example, vehicle safety inspections.

I agree with the notion of having safe vehicles sharing the streets as a concept; each year having all my vehicles inspected to meet certain guidelines seems reasonable, at least on the surface. My brakes work, my windshield wipers actually have the ability to keep rain from obscuring my view, shock absorbers actually can keep the vehicle from bouncing, sufficient tread on the tires and things like that are within reason.

I’m not so sure about how tightly my gas cap fits which might let some vapors escape and destroy the ozone layer and other imposed standards which are directly tied to the ecological movement (similar to a bowel movement; but spelled differently). And I’m quite certain I don’t agree with the State taxing each of my vehicles an additional $10-15 dollars in order to help the “less fortunate”, those who for one reason or another, can’t maintain their vehicles. If they can’t afford to fix issues like brakes and shock absorbers these folks don’t need to be on the road to begin with. These are the same folks who don’t have money for liability insurance and so my insurance rates are increased to factor in the dead beats.

This takes us to the creative criminal artist, the folks who couldn’t get their vehicle to pass inspection and wish to get by anyway. There are several ways to produce a fake inspection sticker; one way is to steal a box of authentic State of Texas inspection stickers from a local inspection station; but that takes on a whole bunch of issues, jail time, probation officers, lawyer fees and time away from your drinking buddies. A more practical method involves making your own replica inspection sticker; either computer generated or individual pieces or art.

Back in the 70’s there were some folks who created a very good reproduction of the official state inspection sticker, mass produced hundreds of them and sold them at local bars, night clubs and shade tree mechanic garages. There was one problem, they didn’t know how to proof read and spelled “vehicle” wrong, “vhicle”; other than that the reflection off the window was a bit different which made them easier to pick off while on patrol.

The ones I liked the best were made by free spirited artists, the impressionist era misdemeanor element. They would use color, shape and inspiration to create a rectangular image which vaguely resembled an inspection sticker and affix their masterpiece to the windshield. I would confiscate the artwork and issue them a traffic ticket with my compliments for being industrious. I still run across these rare finds while working on “cream puffs” during my efforts to generate keys on small car lots.

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