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Why New York City is rounding up a bunch of ice cream trucks

The ice cream trucks reportedly racked up 22,000 summonses and close to $4.5 million in fines for traffic violations.

With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, tourists wait in line to get ice cream from a food truck on the National Mall in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.
With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, tourists wait in line to get ice cream from a food truck on the National Mall in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.
Jacquelyn Martin, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — New York City seized 34 ice cream trucks on Wednesday as a part of their “Operation Meltdown” after operators of the vehicles violated traffic laws and evaded fines for decades, according to The New York Times.

Only 34 of the 46 “worst offenders” were towed on Wednesday. Officials are still on the hunt for the others, The New York Times reports.

The ice cream trucks reportedly racked up 22,000 summonses and close to $4.5 million in fines for traffic violations from 2009 to 2017, according to CNN.

Such citations included running red lights, parking near fire hydrants and blocking crosswalks, among many other violations.

  • "We all know from common experience that ice cream trucks are magnets for children," said Zachary W. Carter, the city's corporation counsel, according to CNN. "In order to protect this particularly vulnerable category of pedestrians, our traffic laws must be strictly enforced."

But there’s more. The ice cream truck operators created “shell” companies to avoid paying their fines. Instead, they reregistered their vehicles at the Department of Motor Vehicles using names of different corporations, “shielding their trucks from fines and seizure,” said Carter, according to the New York Post.

New York City filed a lawsuit against the offenders. Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement about the news.

  • “For years, these owners have ignored public safety laws and have driven dangerously in one of the busiest areas of the City,” de Blasio said. “This seizure marks the end of the road for these scofflaw ice cream vendors.”
  • "No New Yorker is above the law — especially those who try to ignore public safety laws and create dangerous situations for pedestrians, bikers and drivers," de Blasio said in a statement.

Matthew Shapiro, legal director for the Street Vendor Project, an advocacy group with the Urban Justice Center in Manhattan, told The New York Times that parking tickets have been a harsh price to pay for drivers who have a hard time finding places to park.

  • “There’s no viable place for food trucks to park in the city,” Shapiro said, according to The New York Times. “The city cracks down on the trucks, but they refuse to look at this issue and find a way to allow these folks to park.”