Arlington County police have ticketed almost 1,000 residents who failed to get their 1986 county vehicle stickers by an Oct. 15 deadline, including many who were stopped at police checkpoints.

"It's as much a part of our job as catching bank robbers, burglars and murderers," Deputy Police Chief David Reiten said yesterday. "Those who paid the sticker fee are dependent on us to make sure those who didn't do."

The crackdown is aimed at an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 residents who -- unlike almost 100,000 other vehicle owners in Arlington -- have failed to pay for the 1986 orange stickers.

"It's simply a matter of this office and the police department doing what both feel is appropriate," said County Treasurer Frank O'Leary. "There are a range of laws which have to be enforced. The police can't pick and choose which ones they care to enforce today."

The $5 sticker fee originally was due Sept. 15, the date that the county's personal property taxes on vehicles, boats and airplanes were due, but officials allowed an extra month's grace period before enforcing the law. The stickers are issued only after personal property taxes, currently $4.65 per $100 of assessed value, are paid on the vehicles.

The fine is $25 for vehicles parked on county streets or other public areas and $30 for those stopped on the road.

County police are setting up checkpoints in areas where they believe there is a high concentration of vehicle owners who lack stickers because they did not pay their taxes, the deputy chief said.

In other cases, he said, the checkpoints are randomly selected, with police stopping cars that have Virginia license plates but lack a county or city sticker. The police are not issuing tickets to motorists who live outside Arlington, he said.

The police are checking some vehicles with out-of-state plates in an effort to track down residents who may be attempting to avoid local taxes by not registering their vehicles in Arlington, Reiten said.

He added that the police are not stopping out-of-state vehicles that are clearly those of visitors.