Saturday, November 8, 2014
Civil servants obscuring license plates
A popular breed of license plate shield is allowing motorists to evade tickets and tolls even though the plastic cover appears transparent.
The "PhotoMaskCover" and similar products polarize light so that plate numbers and letters are clearly visible from directly behind a car.
But when viewed from an angle, the characters are obscured. Because cameras at toll bridges, tunnels, and intersections are often positioned from a side angle, the plate covers can help scofflaws slip through E-ZPass lanes and run red lights without fear of being tracked down for their transgressions.
"What they do is they direct the light at the plate and they obscure it from where they think the reader is going to be," said Port Authority Captain Ron Shindel, who is in charge of security at the George Washington Bridge. Shindel said his officers have made at least a dozen arrests for illegally covered license plates at bridge toll stations in the last thirty days.
The I-Team found the polarizing plate covers on vehicles in New Jersey and New York, despite laws in both states that prohibit the obscuring of license plates. In some cases even cars and trucks displaying law enforcement placards had the illegal plate covers.
Last month the I-Team spotted a black SUV parked outside the NYPD 103rd Precinct in Queens with the illegal covers obscuring both front and rear license plates. On the dashboard, a makeshift placard read "PO DiFalco 103 Pct Shield 24212"
NYPD spokesman Sgt. Brendan Ryan sent the I-Team a statement saying "this matter is under internal review."
Attempts to reach Officer DiFalco were unsuccessful.
The I-Team also spotted PhotoMaskCovers or similar devices on a Jeep displaying an FDNY placard and a Chrysler parked in a spot reserved for employees of the Nassau County Police Department.