02/23/2015 07:04 EST | Updated 04/25/2015 05:59 EDT

Toronto police take aim at out-of-province problem parkers

Toronto parking officers have a new target: drivers from outside of Ontario who frequently flaunt the city's parking laws.

Police said some 150,000 cars with out-of-province license plates are ticketed for parking illegally each year and of that number just 15 per cent of drivers pay the fines. About 7,700 people racked up three or more tickets, police say, with no intention to pay them.

Those people are the target of parking enforcement’s new Out-of-Province Habitual Offender Initiative, which officially starts on Monday. Offenders now risk having their vehicles towed — at a cost of $200 — while also picking up another ticket.

In a news release, Toronto police said it identifies habitual offenders by checking the licence plate number against how many tickets have been issued and not paid after 120 days.

A similar program was introduced for Ontario drivers last year.

Police said the problem drivers block traffic, take spots away from rightful permit holders and contribute to gridlock — all of which are issues on city streets.

Toronto police also provided an update on its effort to cut down congestion in the downtown core.

From Jan. 5 to Feb. 13, police said, some 11,326 tickets were handed out and 1,784 vehicles were towed.