What began as a South Brooklyn Police Department scourge on drivers utilizing forged paper or mutilated license plates has spread to Manhattan and beyond.
Paper license plates are a standard tool used by drivers seeking to elude law enforcement or trying to evade tolls and speed-enforcement cameras. Police have linked fake plates to dozens of shootings throughout the city.
In order to combat this ongoing crime, NYPD’s Auto Crime Unit distributed a guide to patrol officers with instructions on how to spot the forged license plates.
Driving a vehicle with a forged plate is a penal violation that could result in jail time. Those who find their parked cars towed for forged plates, who arrive at the local precinct to inquire about getting their vehicle back, are likely to be arrested well before their car is returned.
Paper plates have become more common on city streets since the Department of Motor Vehicle offices shut down due to COVID leaving many drivers with temporary permits for extended periods. That allowed bad actors to purchase fake license plates, many of which are replicas of temporary tags from other states.
The FBI has also been involved in this issue, such as in a case in May when the Department of Justice secured fraud and conspiracy indictments against a team of license plate forgers. The three arrested individuals allegedly used fake car dealerships presumably located in Texas. They sold 600,000 paper tags across the country via the internet.
Police in all districts are now hyper-focused on not only ticketing those who are driving cards with fake plates but also in making arrests when appropriate. The goal is to diminish significantly the preponderance of phony license plates scattered through the city to make New York’s streets a safer place for all.
PSA: if your parked car is towed for a fake paper license plate & you come to the precinct to inquire about getting it back, you’ll probably (will definitely) be arrested.
It’s absolutely illegal to print your own plate—like this person did. DMV’s are open—drive legal! pic.twitter.com/y8v3f8WQNy
— NYPD 19th Precinct (@NYPD19Pct) December 29, 2021