How to Spot an Unmarked Cop Car

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Is That a Cop Behind Me?

You're driving around - probably faster than you intended to - and you see an unusual car in the rearview mirror that looks a bit suspicious. Could it be an unmarked cop car or maybe it just that random person who owns an old Crown Vic (who purposely buys a Crown Vic??). But nowadays cops are switching to different car models making it increasingly difficult to spot them out in the streets.

Here are 8 ways to help you spot an unmarked cop car in case you are going that 71 in a 70 mph speeding zone.

Bars Between Front & Rear Seats

All cop cars have bars in between the front and rear seats. Even unmarked cars need them in case they find the need to detain someone.

Full Blackout Tint

Tinted windows personally trip me out. You have no idea who's inside and it could easily be a cop. BUT not every car with tinted windows is a cop - so make sure to weigh out other factors before jumping to conclusions and making yourself even more paranoid.

Silver Hubcaps

This is probably the most distinguishable characteristic. What cop car doesn't have those silver round hubcaps. Slick? I think not.

"Exempt" License Plate

Have you heard of the myth that police license plates compose solely of numbers? From personal experience, it's partially true. I always look at the license plate of a police cruiser and to this day I've only seen numbers. The word "official" could also be at the bottom of the plate but these rules do not apply in all states.


That bubble, mirror-like object that is attached to the driver side door is actually a spotlight. Officers can use them from just inside the car. You can often see them use it to flash onto cars when they are making a stop

Light Bars in the Window and Front Grill

Look for excess lights. They could be in obvious areas like the top front windshield. It could be harder to detect with a car that has a heavier tint but you can possibly spot some in the front grill as well.

Antenna Clusters

Some unmarked cop cars do a good job at being sneaky but others you can see with antennas plastered all over the roof of the car. They're not listening to satellite radio by the way...

Anything out of the ordinary

Is it parked in an empty random lot? Does it have any odd sticker badges at the end of the car? Does it have a grill guard? Anything that looks a bit out of the ordinary to you could be An unmarked cop car. Trust your gut and stay safe out there.

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