New York City is cracking down on something you might not expect: ice cream trucks. On Wednesday, city sheriffs started seizing 46 trucks, the culmination of a two-year investigation into the industry. Officials say that from 2009 to 2017, ice cream trucks racked up more than 22,000 traffic violations including running red lights, blocking crosswalks, and parking in front of fire hydrants, among other things. But instead of paying the fines, officials say, truck owners created dozens of shell companies and re-registered the trucks under those company names at the DMV, even trading ownership of companies with each other. That way, by the time the city went to collect on a debt, there was no record of the company that had been fined, CNN reports.
Ultimately, the city says the owners avoided paying $4.5 million in traffic fines, the Wall Street Journal reports. In addition to the seizures, the city is also suing the truck owners, demanding the payment of the fines plus interest. “We all know from common experience that ice cream trucks are magnets for children,” said Zachary W. Carter, the city’s corporation counsel, in a statement. “In order to protect this particularly vulnerable category of pedestrians, our traffic laws must be strictly enforced.” Added Mayor Bill de Blasio, “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.” (Read more New York City stories.)