NYPD addresses ‘Ghost Car’ epidemic

The New York Police Department, in an effort led by Mayor Eric Adams, is cracking down on vehicles with illegal, fake, paper plates.

These so-called “ghost cars” — vehicles with counterfeit and illegal counterfeit license plates — have been linked to vehicular assault, robberies, and numerous other crimes.

This announcement followed a recent fatal crash in Bedford Stuyvesant, which killed 67-year-old Lynn Christopher and injured four others, on June 26. Only one among numerous dangerous incidents connected to these illegal vehicles, these deaths have led to emotional responses from numerous elected officials.

“Five people were struck that day, an eight-year-old boy still fighting for his life,” Adams said in a press conference on Tuesday, July 5. “It was one of the worst forms of lawlessness and cowardness, what we witnessed on that day, and that is why we are sending a very clear and loud message on pursuing this battle that we are in.”

Ghost cars are decreasing the quality of life for law-abiding New Yorkers by taking street parking spots, avoiding tolls, and being linked to violent crime.

“Ghost cars often park illegally causing the quality of life concerns that hinder the flow of traffic, block driveways, fire hydrants, and even handicapped ramps,” said Kim Royster, chief of the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau. “And certainly it’s not hard to believe that masking the identity of a vehicle in this way is an enticing idea for someone who might want to be planning a terrorist act.”

The term ghost car borrows itself from that of “ghost gun,” unserialized and untraceable firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home.

“Ghost guns can’t be traced, ghost vehicles can’t be traced. And we know if we don’t get them off the streets, just like ghost guns, they become a weapon of death for our innocent New Yorkers,” Adams said.

While paper plates are not a new issue in New York City, they have become a focus of the NYPD. This year 16,448 tickets have been issued to drivers for using illegal or obstructed license plates as of Sunday, July 3, 2022. Officers are now being encouraged to be more aggressive when they see any suspicious license plate or paper plate.

The city Sheriff’s Department seized 54 cars with fake license plates in upper Manhattan on Monday, July 11 — a move that Adams and Sheriff Anthony Miranda say is simply the start.

“We will follow the mandates of Mayor Adams and deputy mayor [Phil] Banks to work collaboratively with other agencies to keep our communities safe,” Miranda said in a statement.

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