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Task force busts 73 cars with missing, fake, or covered license plates

Several arrested as task force cracks down on illegal license plates
Several arrested as task force cracks down on illegal license plates 02:10

NEW YORK -- The NYPD is teaming up with several other law enforcement agencies to launch a task force to crack down on missing, fake, or covered license plates.

It's an issue CBS New York investigative reporter Tim McNicholas has been reporting on for months.

"This stops now," Police Commissioner Edward Caban said Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Adams said the task force got 73 cars towed Monday and made eight arrests, adding he hopes a message was sent to people trying to break the law.

Caban, Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul stood in front of the dozens of cars towed in a Monday crackdown on what police call "ghost vehicles." They all had missing, fake or covered license plates.

The mayor said it's not just about traffic violations or skipping tolls.

"We find they are participating in very violent and dangerous crimes. They leave the scene and we don't know who they are," Adams said.

"It's not just about defrauding the DMV, although that certainly does play a role here," Caban added.

It was the first operation involving a new task force that includes the NYPD, MTA Bridges and Tunnels, the New York City Sheriff's Office, Port Authority Police, and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The NYPD has said the task force will operate across the city to try to get more cars like the ones in question off the roads.

"We're sick and tired of people taking advantage and everyone else feels like a sucker because they're the ones paying the tolls like law-abiding citizens," Hochul said.

Earlier this year, the CBS New York Investigates Team watched MTA Bridges and Tunnels officers stop multiple cars on the RFK Bridge, including one with a fake plate covering up a real one.

CBS New York also found that Amazon was still shipping tinted plate covers to New York even though the mayor's office said the company agreed to stop. The listings we found have since been removed.

"It's very disappointing if that's the case because Amazon made a commitment they would get rid of any device that was being used to obscure plates," MTA CEO Janno Lieber said.

Amazon told CBS New York third-party sellers are required to follow all laws and regulations and they take corrective actions when needed.

Dexter Davis is a driver who strongly opposes tolling, but he's still glad to hear about the new task force.

"I think we pay enough taxes," Davis said. "There shouldn't be any lawlessness, if you're gonna cover your plate, that's against the law."

The task force also wrote 282 tickets Monday, a total it plans to add to in the months ahead.

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