How to Spot an NYPD Cop Car Disguised as a Yellow Cab

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Sometimes not all is as it seems. On the the streets of New York City, that can mean some of the iconic yellow cabs are in fact disguised NYPD cop cars—but how can you spot them?


Motherboard yesterday published an article, based on FOIA requests, which saw the NYPD admit that it has at least three undercover cop cars that are made to look like taxis. But, as Boing Boing reports and Gawker has told us in the past, some people have known about the phenomenon for much, much longer.

One of those people is Herman Yung, who’s a keen taxi-spotter. Yesterday, in response to the Motherboard article, he published his own gallery showing seven cabs that he’s spotted in recent years which he believes to be cop cars. Incidentally, their registered cab numbers are—or at least, were—2W97, 6Y19, 6Y17, 2W95, 2W68, 6Y13, and 6Y21, if you’re watching out.

But perhaps more interesting is Yung’s guide to spotting these undercover cop cars. Here are his top tips:

  • Look for a missing center divider. Undercover NYPD taxi cabs don’t normally have the plastic divider separating the backseats from the front seat.
  • Disconnected or fake meter. It’s just for show and on some of these vehicles, the meter is missing completely from the dashboard.
  • Grey bumpers. This one used to be an easy tell, but nowadays the vehicles have been updated to sport the regular yellow bumper.
  • Extra black side skirts. This is another trait that has slowly been phased out since it made it too easy to spot to those on the lookout.
  • A computer in the front seat. If you can get close enough, look for the NYPD computer mounted in the center console area in the front seat.
  • 2W and 6Y. This is probably the easiest way to tell. All of the undercover taxis sport a license number starting with 2W and 6Y (important note: Not all vehicles starting with these characters are undercover).

[Dooby Brain via BoingBoing]


Der Weiße Engel

Boston edition:

  • center divider is not falling off or cracked in a million places
  • actual working meter with (!) working credit card reader
  • bumpers are not beat up and falling off
  • driver is not yakking at 105 dB on the phone in some Eastern European language
  • all four hubcaps are present
  • all brake lights are functional including high mount