Put down that dilly bar and step away from the ice cream truck

class=img_thumbleft> A new menace is loose on the streets of Minneapolis: unlicensed ice cream trucks. Earlier this week city license inspector Richard Tuffs sent out an email to CCP/SAFE officers seeking help with the issue.

"I am having problems with unlicensed ice cream trucks around the city," he wrote. "Could you send a message out on your email sites to all the block club leaders asking them to do the following. If they see an ice cream truck in the neighborhood to check and see if they have a valid green 2007 Minneapolis Mobile Food Vendor sticker posted on the side of the vehicle."

Mobile Food Vendors, as ice-cream trucks are classfied in Minneapolis, are required to register with the city, pass an inspection, and pay an annual $104 fee. (To see what a properly licensed truck looks like click on the photo at left.)

Ricardo Cervantes, the city's deputy director of licenses and consumer services, says that un-licensed trucks were an issue last summer as well. Two vendors were issued warnings to get their vehicles up to code. "We're trying to size us this issue," says Cervantes. "We know it exists. We want to make sure that these guys are safe, that they don't pose any hazard to our consuming public."

Cervantes says that the plea for public assistance in identifying renegade ice cream trucks has already yielded results. "Since this email has gone out we're getting emails and information from neighborhood groups," he says. "There was one vehicle in particular that we've gotten two complaints about."

Generally first-time ice-cream truck scofflaws are merely issued a warning. But if they continue to flaunt the licensing requirements the consequences will become more severe. "If we find somebody out there repeating this behavior, violating the law, we may impound the vehicle," says Cervantes.