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How to Spot an Unmarked Cop Car

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Police Car

There are speed traps all over the country, with officers setting up shop roadside, hoping to deter speeding and catch those breaking the law. But speed traps aren’t the only time you need to keep an eye out for police officers. Oftentimes, police go undercover in unmarked cars.

So how do you spot an unmarked police car? Well, there are a few ways.


Traditional police cars have an additional light called a spotlight. It’s a fairly large, round exterior light that sits in front of the driver’s side mirror. Unmarked cop cars usually have these, as well, to help the officer see during nighttime traffic stops.

Built-in grille lights

If you look closely at some unmarked police cars, you’ll see light bars built into the front grille.Sometimes there will be lights at the top of the dashboard, as well. Usually you won’t see these until it’s too late and they’re flashing red and blue in your rearview mirror. These are much harder to see than some of the other telltale signs, but it can be a quick indicator if you do happen to notice it.

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Municipal license plates

State-issued license plates have pre-determined digits at the beginning. These plates will also say “Municipal” at the bottom. If you see a vehicle with a state-issued license place, be wary.

Neutral colors

Watch out for neutral-colored cars. Obviously not every white, black, or grey car is an undercover police officer. However, it’s not likely an undercover cop will be found in a blue, red, or other bright colored car.

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Sources: Complex, Car Throttle