NEW YORK (WFLA/CNN) – Nearly 50 ice cream trucks were seized by New York authorities after police say companies and drivers found ways to avoid paying millions of dollars in fines.
A total of 46 ice cream trucks were seized during “Operation Meltdown” in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio says the drivers of those trucks were running red lights, parking at fire hydrants and blocking crosswalks.
“That’s terrible because if kids are running towards ice cream trucks but they’re not stopping or they’re not stopping at red lights or stop signs, they could get run over,” Bryan Tejada, a concerned Long Island City resident said.
The mayor’s office says those drivers were also scamming their way out of paying $4.5 million in fines. Police say they avoided the fines by transferring ownership of the trucks between dozens of fake companies. They were caught when the Department of Finance tried to collect the debts and learned the companies didn’t exist.
“It’s not only the money, it’s the deterrence factor. Summonses act as a deterrence. If there’s no deterrence, then there’s no reason to follow any of the traffic laws,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito said.
Other ice cream truck drivers in the city told WCBS obeying traffic laws is crucial, especially when kids are involved.
“You put out your signs that say, ‘Slow – Children Crossing.’ And you can’t control how kids run but I’ve been doing this 21 years and I’ve never had a kid get hurt while I’ve been working,” Alex Sergiadis of Pete’s Ices said.