They're made of paper but worth twice their weight in gold! Virginia State Inspection stickers are being sold for a hefty price on the black market.
Now, thieves across the Richmond region are breaking into local businesses and stealing them by the bundle.
Eltham Auto Clinic in New Kent was hit twice in two weeks.
After the first burglary, Operations Manager Travis Moskalski was required by state police to buy a safe for the stickers that could be bolted to the ground. It cost the company $600 and the burglars still got into it.
Using a type of reciprocating saw, the thieves cut through the metal and made away with almost 1,000 stickers.
"As a shop owner, I feel like I'm being penalized for someone breaking in and stealing state property," said Moskalski. "Plus, the idea that they would come back and do it again, take that amount of time - I couldn't believe the gall it took to pull that off."
The New Kent Sheriff's Office is on the case. They say, inspection stickers are becoming as popular as drugs on the streets and are almost as profitable.
According to police, one inspection sticker can go for about $50. At Eltham, the thieves stole 1,000 stickers in one heist alone, making that a potentially $50,000 pay day.
Chesterfield, Richmond and Henrico police departments all report seeing thieves either breaking into cars to steal inspection stickers or hitting shops like Eltham.
Virginia State Code shows that if caught with a stolen sticker, you can be fined and even face jail time. Forging stickers can lead to much more legal trouble.
The stickers are traceable by a number printed on it. If a driver is pulled over, police can tell it's not meant to be on that car.
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