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Haverhill Councilor wants to hire private eye to find illegally registered cars Seeks crackdown on cars registered in NH

Eagle Tribune, October 13, 2009By Paul Tennant

HAVERHILL — Even though it's illegal, it's well-known that in Haverhill and other border communities, there are a number of residents who register their cars in New Hampshire, where registration fees are lower and auto insurance is not required.

City Councilor Robert Scatamacchia said the city is probably losing "several hundred thousand dollars" in auto excise revenue because of this practice. He wants to hire a private investigator to target offenders.

While the Haverhill Police Department has cracked down on illegally registered vehicles, the Police Department is "understaffed and overworked," Scatamacchia said. He said it makes sense to let local officers concentrate on arresting drug dealers and other felons, and let a private company go after illegally registered cars.

Scatamacchia has placed this issue on the agenda for tonight's City Council meeting, which starts at 7 at City Hall.

"I think we should at least discuss this," he said. "We're outsourcing to save money; maybe we should outsource to make money."

City Councilor David Hall said he has spoken out about Haverhill residents driving cars with New Hampshire plates.

"I have brought this up at least three times," he said. "I get frustrated by it." He noted the Police Department has a tip line, where people can call and report out-of-state plates on local residents' cars.

Scatamacchia noted that when someone moves to Massachusetts from another state, he or she has 30 days to register his or her vehicle here. The councilor said he would like to talk to state legislators about possibly shortening that grace period.

While New Hampshire is undoubtedly the state with the largest number of improperly registered vehicles in Haverhill, Scatamacchia said he suspects the plates of other states are also involved.

He noted that Massachusetts' law requiring that all vehicles be registered causes some people to look elsewhere to register their automobiles.

"It's very obvious," Hall said of some local residents using the plates of another state."I would consider it," City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien said about outsourcing investigations of illegally registered cars. "I need more information."

"His heart is in the right place," police spokesman Sgt. John Arahovites said, but he added that private investigators don't have the authority to issue citations.

"With the money they would spend for a private investigator, they could probably pay for a traffic and safety division," Arahovites said.

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