Substitute Senate Bill No. 459

Public Act No. 00-103

An Act Concerning The Alteration, Defacing Or Removal Of Vehicle Identification Numbers.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 53a-122 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) A person is guilty of larceny in the first degree when he commits larceny, as defined in section 53a-119, and: (1) The property or service, regardless of its nature and value, is obtained by extortion, (2) the value of the property or service exceeds ten thousand dollars, (3) the property consists of a motor vehicle, the value of which exceeds ten thousand dollars, or (4) the property is obtained by defrauding a public community, and the value of such property exceeds two thousand dollars.

(b) For purposes of this section, "motor vehicle" means any motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement or major component part of any of the above. In any prosecution under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section, evidence of (1) forcible entry, (2) forcible removal of ignition, or (3) alteration, mutilation or removal of a vehicle identification number shall be prima facie evidence [of a] (A) that the person in control or possession of such motor vehicle knows or should have known that such motor vehicle is stolen, and (B) that such person possesses such motor vehicle with larcenous intent.

(c) Larceny in the first degree is a class B felony.

Sec. 2. Section 53a-123 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) A person is guilty of larceny in the second degree when he commits larceny, as defined in section 53a-119, and: (1) The property consists of a motor vehicle, the value of which exceeds five thousand dollars, (2) the value of the property or service exceeds five thousand dollars, (3) the property, regardless of its nature or value, is taken from the person of another, (4) the property is obtained by defrauding a public community, and the value of such property is two thousand dollars or less, or (5) the property, regardless of its nature or value, is obtained by embezzlement, false pretenses or false promise and the victim of such larceny is sixty years of age or older or is blind or physically disabled, as defined in section 1-1f.

(b) For purposes of this section, "motor vehicle" means any motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement or major component part of any of the above. In any prosecution under subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of this section, evidence of (1) forcible entry, (2) forcible removal of ignition, or (3) alteration, mutilation or removal of a vehicle identification number shall be prima facie evidence [of a] (A) that the person in control or possession of such motor vehicle knows or should have known that such motor vehicle is stolen, and (B) that such person possesses such motor vehicle with larcenous intent.

(c) Larceny in the second degree is a class C felony.

Sec. 3. Section 53a-124 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) A person is guilty of larceny in the third degree when he commits larceny, as defined in section 53a-119, and: (1) The property consists of a motor vehicle, the value of which is five thousand dollars or less; (2) the value of the property or service exceeds one thousand dollars; (3) the property consists of a public record, writing or instrument kept, held or deposited according to law with or in the keeping of any public office or public servant; or (4) the property consists of a sample, culture, microorganism, specimen, record, recording, document, drawing or any other article, material, device or substance which constitutes, represents, evidences, reflects or records a secret scientific or technical process, invention or formula or any phase or part thereof. A process, invention or formula is "secret" when it is not, and is not intended to be, available to anyone other than the owner thereof or selected persons having access thereto for limited purposes with his consent, and when it accords or may accord the owner an advantage over competitors or other persons who do not have knowledge or the benefit thereof.

(b) For purposes of this section, "motor vehicle" means any motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement or major component part of any of the above. In any prosecution under subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of this section, evidence of (1) forcible entry, (2) forcible removal of ignition, or (3) alteration, mutilation or removal of a vehicle identification number shall be prima facie evidence [of a] (A) that the person in control or possession of such motor vehicle knows or should have known that such motor vehicle is stolen, and (B) that such person possesses such motor vehicle with larcenous intent.

(c) Larceny in the third degree is a class D felony.

Sec. 4. Section 14-149 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No person shall purchase, sell or have in [his] such person's possession any motor vehicle, including construction equipment, or a major component part thereof, as defined in section 14-67h, or agricultural tractors or farm implements with a mutilated, altered or removed vehicle identification, factory or engine number or a number which shows evidence of having been tampered with, except as hereinafter provided.

(b) Any officer, upon discovery of any motor vehicle, including construction equipment, or major component part thereof, as defined in section 14-67h, or agricultural tractors or farm implements, the vehicle identification, engine or factory number of which has been mutilated, altered or removed, shall take such motor vehicle or major component part if not affixed to such vehicle, or agricultural tractor or farm implement into [his] such officer's custody. Any such motor vehicle or major component part or agricultural tractor or farm implement shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of section 54-36a, as amended. Such officer may take into custody the operator of such motor vehicle or agricultural tractor or farm implement or person in possession of such part and present [him] such operator or person before a proper court. No such operator or person shall be discharged from custody until [he] such operator or person has proved to the satisfaction of the court the ownership of such motor vehicle or such part or such agricultural tractor or farm implement and [his] such operator's or person's right to its custody, provided any such operator or person may be admitted to bail pending proceedings thereon. If such operator or person is unable to establish ownership of such motor vehicle or such part or such agricultural tractor or farm implement to the satisfaction of the court, the court shall order such motor vehicle or part to be forfeited and turned over to the police department or agency whose officer seized such motor vehicle or part or agricultural tractor or farm implement to be used for such department or agency's purposes or sold at auction with the proceeds given to such department or agency. No officer shall be personally liable for any official act done under the provisions of this section.

(c) Any officer, upon discovery of any motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement which has been reported as stolen, shall take such motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement into [his] such officer's custody and have it returned to its rightful owner or, if such owner cannot be determined or if such motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement is needed for evidence, shall have it taken to and stored in a suitable place.

(d) No motor vehicle shall be registered unless it has permanently cut, impressed or embossed on some portion thereof a factory, serial or identification number or mark. Any person who knowingly has in [his] such person's possession any motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement from which the factory, serial or other identification number has been removed, defaced, obliterated or changed shall forthwith file with the commissioner a sworn statement describing such motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement and showing the source of [his] such person's title and, if known, the reason for such removal, defacement, obliteration or change, together with a fee in the amount of fifty dollars. If satisfied as to the facts, the commissioner may grant permission to cut, impress or emboss permanently into the motor of such motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement a special identification number or mark which shall thereafter be deemed sufficient for the purpose of registration of such motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement. No person shall wilfully remove, deface, obliterate or change or cause to be removed, obliterated, defaced or changed any factory, serial or other identification number or mark on or from any motor vehicle, construction equipment, agricultural tractor or farm implement.

(e) Any person who violates any provision of this section shall, [be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year or both for each violation] for the first offense, be fined not more than two thousand five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than three years, or both, and, for the second or subsequent offense, be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Sec. 5. Subsection (a) of section 14-149a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) As used in this section:

(1) "Chop shop" means any area, building, storage lot, field or any other premises or place, except an impoundment or storage area authorized by and under the control or direction of a state or municipal law enforcement agency, (A) where one or more persons are engaged or have engaged in altering, dismantling, reassembling or in any way concealing or disguising the identity of a stolen motor vehicle or of any major component part of a stolen motor vehicle, (B) where there are three or more stolen motor vehicles present, or (C) where there are major component parts from three or more stolen motor vehicles present.

(2) "Major component part" means one of the following parts of a motor vehicle: (A) The engine, (B) the transmission, (C) the right or left front fender, (D) the hood, (E) a door allowing entrance to or egress from the passenger compartment of the vehicle, (F) the front or rear bumper, (G) the right or left rear quarter panel, (H) the deck lid, tailgate or hatchback, (I) the trunk floor pan, (J) the cargo box of a pickup, (K) the frame, or if the vehicle has a unitized body, the supporting structure or structures which serve as the frame, (L) the cab of a truck, (M) the body of a passenger vehicle, or (N) any other part of a motor vehicle which the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles determines is comparable in design or function to any of the parts listed in subparagraphs (A) to (M), inclusive, of this subdivision.

(3) "Motor vehicle" means motor vehicle, as defined in section 14-1, but shall include construction equipment, agricultural tractors and farm implements.

Approved May 26, 2000