New York Mayor Eric Adams is cracking down on counterfeit license plates

Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday announced the Big Apple’s second crackdown on paper license plates and so-called “ghost cars” in as many years, accusing false tags being used by scoffers who commit other crimes.

“Often when you see people using these paper plates, they’re doing something illegal. There is a correlation between the illegal [operation] of a vehicle and not just possession of a gun, possession of narcotics, possession of a suspended license,” Adams told reporters in Queens.

Using fake cardboard signs — a tactic often used to avoid paying tolls or being tracked down — is a misdemeanor, and those who do so risk being hit and towed with a fine of between $65 and $200 said a police officer.

Speaking Tuesday afternoon at the Springfield Gardens Auto Pound, NYPD Transit Chief Kim Royster said arrests with temporary cardboard signs rose to 3,568 — a 300% increase compared to the 893 arrests in 2016. A quarter of the 5,500 ghost vehicles that were towed by the NYPD last year and more than 30% of the 1,646 such cars were never claimed, according to Royster, who cited NYPD data.

Eric Adams
Eric Adams announced a crackdown on fake license plates.
New York Mayor’s Office

“We’ve heard of spirit weapons. Now let’s talk about ghost vehicles. Ghost weapons cannot be tracked and ghost vehicles cannot be tracked,” explained Adams, a former transit cop. “We know that if we don’t take them off the streets like ghost guns, they will become a death weapon for innocent New Yorkers. So we’re fighting… the proliferation of ghost cars that can’t be traced.”

The mayor vowed that police would be instructed “not to drive past these vehicles, but to stop them, conduct an investigation, determine if a crime has occurred and take action.”

He declared: “These vehicles on our road can no longer be ignored.”

The newly touted effort — being carried out by the city’s police and sheriffs — comes after local law enforcement took similar action recently.

The police have found an increased number of ghost vehicles in the last year.
NYC Treasury Department

In June 2021, the NYPD unveiled a crackdown on drivers using fake license plates days after MTA cops caught three drivers unsuccessfully trying to bypass tolls on the RFK bridge using fake tags within half an hour.

In August, sheriffs impounded dozens of vehicles with forged papers. Queens sheriff’s deputies impounded more than 50 cars over the next month.

Also last year, the “used car king of New York,” who police suspected to be behind the rise in fake license plates, was arrested in Austin, Texas.

Royster noted that officials from the department have held meetings with the MTA, the DOT, the sheriff’s office and other agencies about the company in recent months.

“Today we draw the attention of scoffers,” she said. “If you dare to deface your real number plate, or if you put an altered or fake temporary number plate on your vehicle, we’ll be out there immediately, searching your car in real time and looking for you.”

Royster also stressed that trying to reduce the number of rule-breakers on the streets is not a fleeting initiative in effect for just the month or the rest of the summer.

“This is an active, ongoing part of the daily and nightly work of every NYPD police officer and investigator,” she said.

“Just like investigating shootings and violent crimes, these efforts are intelligence-driven, and we use precision policing to focus on specific streets where we know vehicles with fake plates or concealed plates are parked.”

Big Apple Sheriff Anthony Miranda urged New Yorkers to report felons.

“We want to make sure that not only are we enforcing the people who are driving these cars, but we are asking anyone else who knows someone who is illegally selling these license plates and taking advantage of our community to please contact the sheriff’s office,” he said he reporters. New York Mayor Eric Adams is cracking down on counterfeit license plates


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