Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Traffic Enforcement

Wednesday’s Headlines: Fake Plates Crackdown Edition

The mayor and governor claim that they are finally going to crack down on "ghost cars." Plus other news.

Photos: Gersh Kuntzman|

Been there, said he’d do that.

The mayor and governor summoned the vaunted press corps to Randalls Island on Tuesday to claim that they were finally going to crack down on "ghost cars."

Look, I know my mind is increasingly addled, but I'm pretty sure the mayor said the exact same thing on July 5, 2022. In fact, I remember asking the mayor why that crackdown would solve a problem that had long stymied his predecessors. And I remember him answering, "The sole thing that's different from those who talked about it before and those who are talking about it now is Eric Adams — I'm the mayor now. You're going to see us aggressively address this problem."

Well, 20 months later, and here we are again, watching the mayor hold up a bunch of fake plates and say this time it would be different. How so? Well, this time, the effort would comprise a "multi-agency city-state task force" that would do regular enforcement sweeps.

Still, as evidence of the task force's potential, one day earlier, an "inter-agency operation" (NYPD, New York City Sheriff, MTA police, State Police, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Port Authority Police) impounded 73 cars, issued 282 summonses, and arrested eight individuals. In one day! The governor said the new task force should be called the "Ghostbusters" (which is clearly going to prompt another viral Jimmy and the Jaywalkers hit).

The Daily News, amNY and Gothamist lapped it up (though no one mentioned the mayor's 2022 presser about solving the problem — a crisis that Streetsblog revealed in a Polk Award-winning series will require more than just enforcement on this side of the river).

Very few details about the new task force were provided, though Police Commissioner Caban said there would be joint operations "once a month [at] different locations across the city." Chief Jeffrey Maddrey later told Streetsblog, "It may be more than once a month. We will determine that as we see how the program is rolling out." Glad we asked.

It's not as if the previous effort was entirely for naught: City Hall said that in 2023, the NYPD impounded 5,835 cars for fraudulent license plates, which is about 16 a day. That's not nothing, but clearly not anywhere near the scope of a problem — and it's down from the 7,200 cars that the NYPD told the City Council that it towed away for paper plates in 2022.

The mayor was kind enough to call on me at the presser, saying, "I know you're always asking a safe streets question, and since you have that Mets hat on, and I'm a Mets fan, I have to get your question."

I doffed my cap and promptly resumed my role as the skunk at the garden party: "Law enforcement officials are a big segment of the people who cover, deface or obscure their plates. So what's this task force going to do about law enforcement officials?"

The answer: "No one is above the law. It is the responsibility of our integrity control officers ... and we're going to let them know it is your responsibility and obligation to police your precinct, to inspect the cars, to make sure those cars that are parked at a police precinct are not carrying out the actions that we're fighting. So our law-enforcement communities should not be in contrast to what we want to carry out. ... So we're going to inspect what we expect, so it won't be suspect."

It's going to be an uphill battle, as Placard Abuse made clear as the presser was going on:

In other news:

  • New York State's former handsy-in-chief said some crazy ass shit about congestion pricing in the anti-toll New York Post. Meanwhile, in a Daily News op-ed, former DOT Commissioner Lucius Riccio had a spate of other ideas to raise money for the MTA that, frankly, seem crazier than congestion pricing, which he says is crazy. Repeat after me: There is nothing "crazy" about a toll.
  • Like Streetsblog, amNY covered the latest Albany effort to get more money for transit on the eve of congestion pricing.
  • Curbed followed up our scoop on the search for a new volunteer group to run the Fifth Avenue open street, but that didn't make Nick Benson happy at all:
  • Car carnage in Staten Island. (NY Post, Gothamist)
  • Mayor Adams and Gov. Hochul are using PILOTs to finance the new Port Authority Bus Terminal. What could possibly go wrong? (amNY, Crain's)
  • And, finally, only the car-centric New York Times could find a way to place the privacy rights of reckless drivers ahead of the rights of kids to live safe from reckless drivers. Seriously, read this story and tell me if your heart goes out to the Cadillac owners who want to speed without their insurance companies knowing.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Vandals Commit Mass Arborcide Near the Greenway in Kissena Park

Hundreds of young trees were ripped from the ground — some stolen, some just left for dead — near the greenway in Kissena Park in Queens.

April 14, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: The Polk’s on Us Edition

This afternoon, our reporter Jesse Coburn will journey to Midtown to accept Streetsblog's first George Polk Award, one of journalism's highest honors. But before that, here's the news.

April 12, 2024

Op-Ed: Police Placard Corruption Report Was Weak, Disappointing … and Completely Expected

The Department of Investigations clearly had ample evidence of crimes and serious violations, yet its report lets everyone off the hook.

April 12, 2024

City Unveils Design for Long-Decrepit East Harlem Greenway

Nearly two dozen blocks of crumbling greenway along the Harlem River are slated for a revamp in 2025.

April 12, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Bike Lanes are Good for Business Edition

A business owner testifies from the heart (and wallet). Plus other news.

April 11, 2024
See all posts