In Indian Trail, Union County deputies use something not many people recognize: ghost cars.
Ghosts cars, or stealth cars as some people call them, are marked police cruisers but the graphics and decals are barely visible during the day. At night, the decals reflect.
“You gotta be able to get out and get into your environment and blend in and be able to catch the violator that you’re looking for,” Capt. Chase Coble of the Union County Sheriff's Office said.
“It’s super visible at nighttime for us. But in the daytime we can be a little bit more discreet whenever we’re out in the community — and that helps us be in the right area at the right time to catch violators,” Coble said.
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A lot of people don’t realize it’s a police patrol vehicle until it’s too late.
Union County sheriff’s Deputy Dak Richardson
The sheriff’s office patrols Indian Trail. Deputies say the traffic and congestion is getting worse and that some drivers don’t care about breaking traffic laws.
That’s where the ghost cars come in.
“People will fly right by you. They don’t pay attention to it. They don’t see it,” Coble said. “The aggressive drivers that are weaving in and out of traffic on Old Monroe Road or on (U.S.) 74. I was driving one before and been passed on the double yellow line whereas in a marked car with a light bar on top of it that wouldn’t happen.”
Deputies in Indian Trail say the three ghost cars they started using in 2013 are coming off the road, and newer versions will take over patrol duty this coming week.
“It’s not about trying to generate revenue, it’s about trying to generate contact on those traffic stops,” Coble said. “Because what we want is that interaction with those drivers that are violating the law that are speeding, running stop signs, things like that.”
The sheriff’s office says it’s looking for compliance and that the ghost cars help them get that.
“Some people get upset. Some people will kid around and say the ghost got me,” said Deputy Dak Richardson.
Richardson said he’s been patrolling Indian Trail in the ghost car for the last year and a half.
“With the reflective markings on the side, it helps catch the violators. Also, it’s a slick top – all your lights are inside the vehicle – that helps as well,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize it’s a police patrol vehicle until it’s too late.”
Driver Marc Payne got pulled over on Brandon Oaks Parkway.
“I wasn’t paying attention to the speed limit, and then I saw him come up behind me,” Payne said.
Richardson gave Payne a warning for speeding. Payne said the spotlight at the side of the car indicated to him that it was a police car. He didn’t slow down in time.
“I don’t feel tricked,” he said. “I don’t feel tricked at all.”