‘Ghost Cars': Blurred Plates, No Plates on Philly Streets, Beyond

'If you cover your tag... what are you hiding?'

NBC Universal, Inc.

Cars with no license plates -- or those that use plastic screens or other methods to obscure a VIN number or license plate -- can be found littering Philadelphia's streets.

NBC10’s Randy Gyllenhaal took a look at these so-called “ghost cars” and the impact they have when it comes to traffic and toll violations from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to New York City.

"We've seen an uptick in cars that are just straight up removing their plate," Josh Schulman of the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association told NBC10. "'If you cover your tag... what are you hiding?"

Along a center city block, NBC10 found a vehicle in a "No Parking Zone" with no license plate and, instead, sticky attachment points to allow a plate to easily be taken off and put back on.

Gyllenhaal found that, in New York City, about seven-percent of red-light camera tickets are unreadable, often because of license covering techniques.

But, in Pennsylvania, Gyllenhaal notes, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has said that the impact of 'ghost cars' is negligible.

Less than one-percent of camera-tickets are considered unreadable and, these have had "no significant impact" on turnpike revenue, the commission told NBC10.

Locally, the Philadelphia Parking Authority told NBC10 that cars with the VIN numbers covered or a license plate missing will be ticketed and towed.

But, for neighbors like Schulman, there's a feeling that enforcement on these vehicles is lacking.

"Unless it's blocking a crosswalk, they aren't going to really come out and do anything about it," Schulman told NBC10. "And, this feeling that laws don't apply to people, that's a big problem."

Contact Us