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December 2002 Rant

"Vehicle Color"

Do you remember the Lisk-Silva murders in the late 90ís? In 1996 Sofia Silva was abducted from near her home. Her body was later found. A few months later the two Lisk sisters were also abducted and found dead a few days later. DNA evidence confirmed the killer was the same man. This June a man abducted a girl in South Carolina. He raped her and tied her up. After he fell asleep she managed to get free. A chase with police ended in Florida where Richard Evonitz shot himself to death. DNA evidence proved he killed the girls. What you will not read about is that the Silva-Lisk murders changed your vehicle registration.

The authorities thought the man who abducted the girls drove a white pickup truck. The police complained that they needed another crime fighting tool. They needed to know the names and addresses of every person in the area that owned a white pickup. So now we have to include in our vehicle registration the color of the car or truck we are registering.

Has this vehicle color ID system helped the police catch any criminals? I could not find even one case in which the DMV vehicle color database was used to catch anyone.

Letís move forward to the recent sniper case in the Maryland, Virginia and DC areas. In this case broadcasting the color of the suspectsí vehicle actually may have prevented the capture of the snipers. The dark blue Chevy Caprice the snipers drove had its license run 11 times during the killing spree. But then the police were looking for a white van. Not only was a man in Roanoke held for 5 hours because he drove a white van but two guys at a Richmond gas station got hauled in and deported for simply being in the wrong place and having a white van. What would have happened to those guys if they had put up any resistance to the police? I think you know the answer. Dozens of people were stopped and searched for no other reason than they happened to drive a white van.

We learned that white is the most popular color for vans. Which asks the question why spend the money to print new registration cards asking for vehicle color and why spend the money to maintain a vehicle color database that is worthless? If there are thousands of white vans out there then what good is the database? The database has other problems. You canít even list the correct color for many vehicles. Due to restrictions in the database only certain colors can be listed and no two tones can be listed. You give the data once so if you have the vehicle repainted the database will not have the correct color info.

There is a cost involved in maintaining that database. Why spend money on a vehicle color database that does not have the correct colors and is of no value in finding criminals? I believe that this is all a part of trying to collect as much information on all of us as possible. Even if the information today is mostly useless someday in the future it may become useful in controlling us. We lose a little bit of freedom every time more information about us ends up in a government database. Unfortunately that may be a goal of some of our elected officials.

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