Ghost Cars: Eyewitness News sees firsthand how NYC sheriffs are cracking down on fake plates and unregistered cars

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

Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne and photographer Steven Cioffi rode with sheriff’s deputies during a recent overnight raid that seized 51 cars from eastern New York.

“This is a public safety initiative,” said New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda.

Miranda said the NYPD informs the sheriff’s office where they are 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 throughout the city, are often associated with crimes, such as robberies, shootings and hit-and-runs.

“This is a way to avoid tolls, this is a way to skip red lights and speed up,” 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 is in their custody,” Miranda explained.

“We have guns, drugs, vehicles with 10 or 20 different license plates,” First Deputy Sheriff Maureen Kokeas said.

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

Miranda said many times people don’t claim cars because of illegal items found inside.

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

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

Miranda said her office also plans to go after online dealers who illegally sell fake New York license plates.

Miranda said ghost car seizure operations will be taking place frequently and people have been warned.

“We’re going to be out seizing these vehicles every day,” Miranda said.

If you are concerned that a ghost car is parked in your neighborhood, call 311.

If you are interested in buying a repossessed vehicle, you can check the upcoming auctions here.

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DO YOU NEED A RESEARCHED STORY? Dan Krauth, Kristin Thorne, and the team at 7 On Your Side Investigates at Eyewitness News want to hear from you! Call our confidential information line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or complete the form BELOW.

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Email your questions, problems or story ideas to

Facebook: KristinThorne.WABC

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