Paper Plates from Jersey Make Scamming NYC Easy!

This same temporary New Jersey license plate is rotated among multiple cars — a scam by car dealers to avoid parking tickets or seizure as derelict cars. Photos: Ben Verde
This same temporary New Jersey license plate is rotated among multiple cars — a scam by car dealers to avoid parking tickets or seizure as derelict cars. Photos: Ben Verde

Car dealerships in upper Manhattan are taking parking theft to a new level of scam.

Two used car dealers — Charlie Auto Sales and Riverdale Motors, both near 216th Street in Inwood — have been using temporary New Jersey license plates to store their unsold merchandise near the dealerships — the latest twist on long and ugly history of car dealers being a neighborhood problem. In this case, the temporary tags are swapped among many vehicles or simply duplicated. The temporary plates — some of them expired — prevent the police from ticketing the vehicles, locals say.

“The NYPD sees the car has a plate on it, so they don’t ticket it for being parked in the street,” said a neighborhood resident, who asked to remain anonymous because he fears retaliation from the dealerships. “The tags are rotated and even copied, but NYPD doesn’t seem to care — even after they expire.”

The temporary paper tags are a real thing — they’re how New Jersey’s DMV allows residents of other states to drive away with their just-purchased car from a dealership in New Jersey. In order to obtain a temporary plate, dealers fill out a form for the buyer and pay just $5. The tags expire after 30 days — enough time for the driver to obtain a real plate in his or her home state. As such, the temporary tag cannot be renewed, according to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. It’s unclear how the Inwood dealerships obtained so many tags, though it is likely they are merely photocopying them.

On a recent visit, Streetsblog spotted seven cars with temporary New Jersey plates near the two dealerships, all on 10th Avenue. Three cars were parked on the street with temporary tags: a black Toyota sedan,  a white sedan and a green van — two of them bearing the Charlie Auto Sales logo on their bumpers. The block of 10th Avenue where Charlie Auto Sales is situated was clogged by parked and double-parked cars, many of them without plates at all.

Here are different temporary plates on the same car (left on May 30, right on June 3). Photos: Ben Verde
Here are different temporary plates on the same car (left on May 30, right on June 3). Photos: Ben Verde

Also present were four cars — a red Nissan Quest, a red Ford F-150 and a two blue Honda CRVs — parked on the property of a nearby gas station. Three out of the four cars had temporary license plates that matched plates seen on different vehicles in earlier photos obtained by Streetsblog. On any given day, the same paper plate might be on multiple cars — or on a different car from day to day.

Take the fake plate, 262626R: On a recent day, the very same tag appeared on the CRV, the F-150 and the white sedan – all parked on the same block. Worse, that illegally used fake plate had expired on Jan. 11, 2019. The same plate can be seen on five other vehicles in earlier photos obtained by Streetsblog — a white Ford Transit, a white Chevy Silverado, a blue Ford van, a green Toyota and a white Ford Tahoe. The Transit van — unplaced — was in the Charlie Auto Sales lot when Streetsblog visited.

Then it showed up on a used green Toyota.
Then it showed up on a used green Toyota.

The plates on the Nissan Quest, 311252R, can be seen on an earlier photo of a blue Honda minivan parked in the street.

The owner of Charlie Auto Sales — who, indeed, gave the name Charlie, but declined to give his last name — claimed he doesn’t park his cars outside of his lot because he had received steep fines in the past. But he admitted to occasionally still doing it anyway.

“I never said I don’t take the cars outside, believe me you get a lot of tickets,” he said.

Charlie denied his improper use of temporary plates — and would not discuss why several of the cars parked on the street had his dealership’s insignia on their bumper.

“Anything outside of my business has nothing to do with me,” he said.

A manager at Riverdale Motors, located across from Charlie Auto Sales at 5089 Broadway, also denied using the temporary tags.

“We don’t do that,” he said.

The 34th Precinct does not seem to be doing anything to crack down on this scam.

Sgt. Douglas Perez told Streetsblog that the precinct is “working with Sanitation and NYPD traffic enforcement to address this issue.” But a neighborhood resident said the NYPD’s response was not enough.

“You don’t need a ‘plan’ to address something that is flat-out illegal,” he said. “Why doesn’t NYPD simply write them tickets? They certainly don’t hesitate to ticket residents on their blocks for the slightest infraction.”

The Department of Sanitation and the NYPD said that it removed 19 vehicles and issued 18 summonses on May 23 — but none of these vehicles belonged to Charlie Auto Sales or Riverdale Motors because Sanitation can’t do anything about vehicles with plates, according to spokeswoman Dina Montes, essentially admitting that the dealerships’ strategy works.

Charlie and his competitor know that the fake paper plates will keep their cars from being removed.

  • Joe R.

    The Department of Sanitation and the NYPD said that it removed 19 vehicles and issued 18 summonses on May 23 — but none of these vehicles belonged to Charlie Auto Sales or Riverdale Motors because Sanitation can’t do anything about vehicles with plates, according to spokeswoman Dina Montes, essentially admitting that the dealerships’ strategy works.

    Anyone who lives near these dealerships up for just tearing the plates off, then calling sanitation?

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’d put this under the general heading of accommodations to allow activities related to the automobile in places where they would otherwise be impossible, because those places were built before the automobile.

    Double parking for deliveries is another example.

    The auto dealers would say that they can’t operate there businesses without parking on the street, because there isn’t enough room. They are stuck. But in the intermediate to long run, the response is Manhattan is no place for auto dealers or, for that matter, many private large motor vehicles.

    I just happen to have downloaded employment and wages data on, among other things, the motor vehicle and parts dealer industry in NYC. NYC employment in that industry fell from around 11,800 in the early 2000s to around 9,900 during the Great Recession, before rising to around 10,900 in 2017. Not much of a decline, given the development boom in the city and the high land requirements of that industry.

    In Manhattan, the post-2000 (when I have data) peak was 1,968 in 2006, compared with 1,525 in 2017.

  • 6SJ7

    Possibly fewer employees due to automation of some jobs like making service appointments on line, more reliable new cars mean less warranty work, etc. Also many dealerships have been bought up and combined.

    NYC has a zoning classification, (C8-1,2,3,4) for (but not limited to) automotive businesses:
    https://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/zoning/districts-tools/c8.page

    Near my home along Hylan Blvd auto dealers, an auto repair shop, a car wash as well as a bank and a diner are in a C8 zone. But no residences are permitted in a C8 zone.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    If it is clear it is a false or expired license, why not treat it as abandoned? I just do not buy the excuse that they cannot do anything if there is a fraudulent license.

  • iSkyscraper

    The C8 zones have been slowly disappearing. The area this article it talking about in Inwood was recently rezoned from C8 Automotive to mixed use C4-4D and residential R7D. These dealerships won’t be around for much longer.

  • iSkyscraper

    Sometimes they do a bad photocopy job and leave off the “R”. You can’t make this stuff up!

    (Note that both of these used cars have Charlie Auto Sales stickers)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5469945eb0fb609f62a1305786c005c0167b0512311f6a066604c0de4650593b.jpg

  • 6SJ7

    The auto-related businesses will sell out for big $$$ as the land under them is now more valuable and many will sell to developers. But there are still many C8 zones around the city.

  • 6SJ7

    Expired plates don’t necessarily mean stolen or abandoned. Some people just forget to renew their license plates.

  • qrt145

    And their car should be towed and impounded until they get valid license plates.

  • Larry Littlefield

    There was a proposal to allow housing in C8 zones back when I was at City Planning (pre-2001). I guess they plan to map in exchange for campaign contributions instead.

    BTW, I’m surprised DeBlasio didn’t try to rezone the horse carriage business out of existence instead of banning it directly.

    You can have a car dealer on Hylan Boulevard, no problem. Inwood? Big problem.

    Meanwhile, following the national trend, motor vehicle dealers might have as many employees as before, but might have turned those hired out of later-born generations into “contractors” and “freelancers.” As in the taxi/car service/ride app industry.

  • 8FH

    There’s a dealership on 4th Ave in Brooklyn that just parks cars with no plate at all anywhere they please. They park on the street, and blocking the entire sidewalk in places. The cars should all be towed.

  • AMH

    On a related note, what happened to all the auto shops in Willets Point? Did they relocate within the city, outside the city, or just shut down? Do we know?

  • Nawc77

    Just look into the finances of high ranking officers in the 34th Precinct, I bet there are bribes or goods exchanged, free or cheap cars, for them to look the other way. Corruption runs deep in the NYPD.

  • Andrew

    The auto dealers would say that they can’t operate their businesses without parking on the street, because there isn’t enough room.

    Then they are welcome, if they believe it is worth their while, to buy up a neighboring property and use it for parking – just as any non-car-related business that needs more space needs to expand at its own expense.

  • Driver

    If your temporary plate is expired and you have not affixed permanent plates, your vehicle is most likely not legally registered.

  • MatthewEH

    Would the NJ paper tags protect the cars against a brick through the side window? Asking for a friend.

    (Just joking, I swear!)

  • AJ585

    If you see them on your walk to the subway, clearly only one dealer is at fault here….

  • running_bond

    But they’ve also been spotted at gas stations/dealers in southern Inwood…

  • AJ585

    Right, but of course there are other dealers in southern Inwood. They should all be listed or none at all. It doesn’t really make sense.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I didn’t know that after decades they are finally gone.

    The anti-theft devices in late model cars might have cut off the supply of vehicles and parts.

  • AMH

    Yes, Bloomberg bulldozed them for his redevelopment plan, which I believe has stalled. The entire area has been flattened. https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170125/corona/willets-point-development-demolition-queens/

  • Cleta

    You can easily exit your unexciting 9 am to 5 pm job and start earning paycheck per month around 12000 bucks working at home. Let’s be real, no matter where you’re working that: working. While doing a home based job you will have Extremely flexible daily schedule – you can take breaks at any moment, feel absolutely no rush to hang up on your loved ones while they contact you, and consume meal at any odd time you choose, Stop thinking about crowds and heavy traffic – Absolutely no stuffing yourself into a rickety transportation tube, having people scuff your brand new shoes, or walking behind agonizingly slow individuals who apparently don’t understand what a straight line is, Much more time with loved ones -Take proper care of a sick significant other at your house, be ready for kids earlier in the day, get some extra snuggles in with your doggo, or simply just have some quiet time to your-self! Test it out, what it is about… concepttrumpet.im-internet.eu

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