The driver was described by the New York Post for "pulling a trick worthy of James Bond". Reportedly the Virginia truck driver pulled a cord that flipped his vehicle's license plate to not be visible to E-Z pass
toll cameras at the GWB toll plaza. This creative attempt to dodge the toll was allegedly done to avoid paying the $65 charge that is required to cross the bridge.
According to the New York Post
, a Port Authority officer saw the truck's license plate disappear and then reappear around 6:30 a.m. last Saturday, and an alarm was sounded.
Police chased down the truck and immediately pulled the 36-year-old suspect over on the bridge. Upon examination, the officers found a "crude contraption" that was purportedly used by the driver to move the license plate up and down from the interior of the truck, effectively dodging getting the license plate's number snapped by cameras.
“There was a cable in his front cab to retract the front plate,” a source explained to the New York Post. “Once he’s past the security cameras, he drops the plate back down.”
The Port Authority, which operates the bridge, approved a massive toll hike in August; the increases took place in mid-September. Along with the GWB, the hike impacts the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing. Crossing for cars rose from $8 to $12 and trucks are paying $13 per axle; drivers paying with cash pay higher fees than E-Z pass users.
Port Authority's increase, which has been controversial in its planning, was originally scheduled to be much higher; the governors of both New York and New Jersey had originally vetoed
the first toll hike.
According to the Associated Press
, "The Port Authority's coffers have been hit hard by security-related projects following the 9/11 attacks, a drop in revenue caused by the global economic slump, and the $11 billion World Trade Center complex."
Toll fees are expected to rise steadily for the next few years. By December 2015, a five-axle truck can expect to pay $105 to cross the bridge.
The suspect, Nelson Vaquiz, is a self-employed truck owner from Beaverdam, Va. Police impounded the truck and charged Vaquiz with theft of service, possession of burglar tools and eluding. The suspect posted $5,000 bail and was released.
Toll skippers are reportedly common, and it is noted "toll cheats" cost the Port Authority $14 million in 2009 and 2010.
In regards to the truck driver's arrest, AP reported
"Our police department takes this very seriously and are on the lookout for such maneuvers," Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said. "Hopefully this will serve as a lesson."