Problems with the Law? Here's a Guide on Spotting Undercover NYPD Yellow Cabs

Keeping a huge metropolis such as New York City safe is a gargantuan undertaking, but somebody has to do it. And that somebody is the NYPD, the boys in blue everybody loves to hate until they actually catch the guy who ran off with their wife's purse, or something.
TLC yellow cabs in Lower Manhattan 1 photo
Photo: ChevronZ via
There are two ways to enforce the law, and they work best when used together. One is to make your presence felt, have as many officers patrolling the streets at any time and make sure everybody notices that. This makes the law-abiding citizens feel safe and the others think twice before trying anything.

The second is coyer and requires a bit of stealth on the officers' part. Since detectives are allowed to wear civilian clothes and only reveal their identity when needed, the same principle can be applied to their cars. And while plain, unmarked cars are OK for passing unnoticed, nothing is more common on the streets of NYC (apart from pigeon poop) than the Taxi & Limousine Commission yellow cabs.

And that's precisely why the NYPD has a small fleet of undercover yellow cab vehicles. Now, whether you feel you're under surveillance and would like to know what to look for or simply for fun, here is a little guide on how to tell them apart from regular taxi cars. The six-point list has been put together by Herman Yung, the man running the Doobybrain blog.

1. Look for a 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. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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).
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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