Eyewitness News sees first-hand how NYC sheriffs are cracking down on ghost cars

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Monday, October 10, 2022
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The NYC Sheriff's Office is cracking down on ghost cars - cars with fake plates, fake paper plates and cars that are unregistered or uninsured. Kristin Thorne has the story.

The New York City Sheriff's Office is cracking down on ghost cars - with fake plates, fake paper plates and cars that are unregistered or uninsured.

Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne and photographer Steven Cioffi rode along with sheriff deputies during a recent overnight crackdown in which they seized 51 cars from East New York.

"This is a public safety initiative," NYC Sheriff Anthony Miranda said.

Miranda said the NYPD informs the Sheriff's Office where they're experiencing high levels of crime and that's where the Sheriff's Office will target a ghost car operation.

Miranda said ghost cars, which are rampant across the city, are often associated with crimes, like robberies, shootings and hit-and-run crashes.

"This is a way of beating tolls, this is a way of running red lights and speeding," he said.

Once officers seized the vehicles, they towed them to a nearby church parking lot, where they broke into the cars and searched them.

"The sheriff's department and the police department have the right to inventory any vehicle that comes into their custody," Miranda explained.

"We've gotten guns, we get drugs, we get vehicles with 10 or 20 different license plates in them," First Deputy Sheriff Maureen Kokeas said.

Eyewitness News' camera was rolling as officers seized a machete, knife knuckles and a bullet from a vehicle.

Miranda said many times people do not claim the cars because of the illegal items found inside.

He said if people want to regain possession of the car, they must show proof of ownership, they have to properly register and insure the vehicle and then have to pay the fine.

Miranda said about 40% to 50% of the cars end up at auction.

Miranda said his office is also planning to go after online distributors who are illegally selling fake New York license plates.

Miranda said the ghost car seizure operations will be happening frequently and people have been warned.

"We're going to be out seizing these vehicles on a daily basis," Miranda said.

If you are concerned a ghost car may be parked in your neighborhood, call 311.

If you are interested in buying a seized vehicle, you can check out upcoming auctions here.

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