What to Know
- Port Authority police officers engage in a game of catch-me-if-you-can with toll-evading motorists every day at the nation's busiest bridge.
- Some of the motorists rack up thousands of dollars worth of fines.
- The police, however, are most concerned about the security issue raised by unknown motorists passing into New York City.
Port Authority police officers stationed at the George Washington Bridge engage in a game of catch-me-if-you-can every day with toll evading motorists, who go to great lengths to hide their vehicle’s identity while racking up thousands of dollars in unpaid tolls.
The stakes are high. In just four hours on a Tuesday morning in late June, Port Authority Police set up a sting at one crossing of the bridge, netting a 25-year-old woman with 360 violations who owed $22,959; a 51-year-old man with 436 violations who owed $27,715; and a 58-year-old man with 1,260 violations who owed $79,423.
The toll evaders will alter their license plates, use phony “E-Z Passes” and even use wire contraptions to lift a license plate under a vehicle’s fender to hide it from the bridge’s cameras.
"They think they can't be caught," Port Authority Inspector Gerry Silva told NBC 4 New York.
But for Silva and other Port Authority officers who patrol the George Washington Bridge – the nation’s busiest – it’s imperative the toll evaders be tracked down.
Their primary concern is not the thousands of dollars in unpaid fines, but the security of motorists and New York City residents.
“It's a huge safety issue especially in this climate right now," Silva said.
“"It's security first, security second, security utmost," said Port Authority Chief Michael Brown.