Whatever your thoughts on the NYPD disguising undercover cars as yellow cabs, we should at least agree that the practice is a bit sketchy, right?
It's 3:00 a.m., you're a little twisted, and you think you're getting ready to pay for a safe ride home from the bar only to discover that it's actually one of New York's finest behind the wheel ready to take you in for some kind of similarly twisted interpretation of public drunkenness or disorderly conduct.
While that sounds like complete bullsh*t, it's important to know that there are a few different ways to identify these different types of undercover cars.
Dooby Brain's Herman Yung recently put together a guide to spotting the NYPD's sneaky undercover cabs, and it's great.
While the list isn't 100% foolproof as the police are always making changes, the data reflected in the following steps is derived from New York State Freedom of Information Law requests made by Muckrock's Matthew Guariglia.
1. Missing center divider
Undercover NYPD taxi cabs don’t normally have the plastic divider separating the backseats from the front seat.
2. Disconnected or fake meter
It’s just for show and on some of these vehicles, the meter is missing completely from the dashboard.
3. Grey bumpers
This one used to be an easy tell, but nowadays the vehicles have been updated to sport the regular yellow bumper.
4. 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.
5. Police computer in front seat
If you can get close enough, look for the NYPD computer mounted in the center console area in the front seat.
6. 2w or 6Y license plates
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).
Take a look at the photos below illustrating some of the slight differences you'll see with police cabs, like grey bumpers, license plates that begin with 2W or 6Y, and black side skirts.