Owners of hapless heaps and junky jalopies are asked to get their clumsy clunkers out of sight.

And as the county’s code enforcement officer, Gary Corbin can help: It’s his job to put teeth in the city’s Junk Motor Vehicle Program.

Since 1975, it has been against the law to leave unlicensed and unregistered cars and trucks parked in one place on city streets or private property in plain sight for long periods of time.

Corbin says the city wants to get a handle on its junk vehicle problem as part of an effort to beautify the Mining City. Corbin says it’s keeping him busy.

Within one block of West Galena Street Wednesday morning, Corbin tagged four rigs that fit the criteria of a junk vehicle. The notice advises the owner that he or she has five days to move it or get it licensed. Corbin also sends a letter with the same warning.

If nothing happens, the vehicle is towed.

“The last thing I want to do as a code enforcement officer is to take someone’s vehicle,” he said.

Most people are good about complying. Corbin says he tows one of every seven vehicles he cites.

Some owners play what Corbin calls a “shell game.” They move the vehicle to another part of the city, but it doesn’t take long for him to find them, he said.

Corbin tags about a dozen vehicles in a day. In the past two and a half years as code enforcer, Corbin estimates he’s towed — and crushed — more than 400 cars.

The oldest junk car that landed in the crusher was a 1951 Plymouth.

“I hated to see them crush it, because it’s like crushing a piece of history,” Corbin said.

Still, it’s against the law to have unlicensed junk vehicles on private property if they are in plain view of a public thoroughfare. Corbin says his department will tow these vehicles without charge if the homeowner calls his office.

Corbin also reminded people that scrap yards can’t accept junk vehicles unless the owner has the title.

However, the county will tow junk vehicles free of charge without a title.

Landlords can have the county tow vehicles that have been abandoned by renters.

To report or get rid of junk vehicles, call the community enrichment office at 497-5022.

— Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at john.emeigh@lee.net or phone at 496-5511. Follow him at Twitter.com/@johnemeigh.

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