Photo: Pakutaso
crime

Unmarked police cars in Japan use Transformer-style trick when they pull someone over

63 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Police cars in Japan are generally pretty easy to spot. Departments nationwide use a pretty much uniform black-and-white color scheme, there’s a large red light bar mounted on the roof, and a gold, star/flower-like insignia attached to the grille. Then, of course, there’s the large-font text, in both Japanese and English, that says “police.”

But Japan has unmarked patrol cars too, and they obviously don’t have any of those visual giveaways. For example, the one in the video below looks like any of a dozen other Toyota Crown sedans you’ll spot within walking a few blocks in downtown Tokyo, but is, in fact, a cop car.

So what does the officer do if he needs to reveal his presence and pull someone over?

When it’s time to drop the disguise, the driver flips a switch which opens a panel on the car’s roof, and a round flasher magically (well, mechanically) pops up into place. Later, if the officer needs to slip back into incognito mode, flipping the switch again lowers the flasher back into its hiding place, pulling the lid closed with it.

Here’s an overhead view of another unmarked Crown, in which the dimensions of the panel are easier to see because of the lighter paint color.

This feature isn’t exclusive to Toyota law enforcement vehicles either. Here, for example, a Nissan V36-generation Skyline (Infiniti G35 for those using non-JDM nomenclature) shows off the same trick near the moat of the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

On the one hand, this does lack the old-school drama of an undercover cop reaching his hand out the window and slapping a flasher on the roof by hand as the car speeds down the expressway. This being Japan, though, it makes sense that even the police cars are essentially mechanical cousins to transforming robots.

Source: YouTube/rabin1553 via Hachia Kiko

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

63 Comments
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Listen, mate. Cops are the law here, and in the case of minor traffic violations, you are pretty much onto a loser if you quibble whatever country you may be in. Unless, like Antiquesaving, you have a cast iron defence.

Nope, it's your right, I've had a Japanese friend of mine get asked for ID, he refused because there is no law stating a Japanese must do that... even argued with the cops, they knew he knew the law and turned their attention to me.... in my case being a foreigner the law states I have to ID anytime a policeman asks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wounder if the police will have to point with there hand or finger at the roof when operating the button for this light?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okinawa has always used removable red lights on the roof. I was pulled over once but the guy was obviously looking for drunks and let me go..he just said be sure to “Signal longer before changing lanes”.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Starsky and Hutch drove an unmarked police car, didn't they?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Got stopped doing 110 in a 40 area"

And yet you seem surprised they stopped you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In the US you see unmarked law enforcement vehicles with the flashing emergency lights built into the vehicles regular lighting. A turn signal might double as a very powerful flashing blue LED for example, and the headlights will have blinding white LEDs integrated into the normal headlight housing. Plus there will be an LED on the center mounted rearview mirror right behind the glass. Same thing at the rear as the tail lights double as flashing red and blue lights. In the old days most unmarked cars were the same make and model as their patrol cars and had the same telltale police features like flood lights on the A-pillar, cop wheels, a forest of antenna on the roof and the like. Basically a regular cop car without the roof lights painted green or brown. Not today. Almost no external clues to give the game away. The best "plain brown wrapper" I have seen was Oregon State Patrol, a metallic blue Mustang coupe that looked perfectly innocent until all the lights came on. Luckily he was after the car in front of me.

By comparison state law in California requires traffic enforcement to be conducted by uniformed officers in marked patrol cars, a law that dates to the first half of the 20th Century when citizens and the courts were rallying against speed traps (timing cars against fixed marks on the road, also illegal in California).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So cop cars in Nagoya have a 305 at the beginning?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I got pulled over by one of these unmarked cars last year. Was working 14 hours that day and on my way back home (I kept dozing off and swerving a bit) as I was less than a mile from my place, I saw a car next to me (at the traffic light) in the other lane and the driver was staring at me, I won't lie, I was annoyed and asked the guy if he had a problem and he said, "no, no problem" and the light changed and the guy took off, he turned left and turned right, I drive through a small ally taking a short cut and just out of the blue and around the corner from my house that same car came back and all the lights popped up and it did scare the crap out of me and then I realized...

The cop told me to stop (there were 4 in the car) they approached me and asked me if I was ok, I told them, I was and what was the reason for pulling me over and they told me it was because of my erratic swerving, so they gave me a breath analyzer, of course, passed it, they were really cool, we were all laughing in the end, he told me to be careful, gave me my license back and that was it.

You are seeing more and more of these unmarked vehicles. Usually in the US, the street police (on patrol) don't use (for regular policing) unmarked cars for daily patrols. Usually, unmarked cars are used for surveillance and undercover work.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Does that mean cops are actually going to do work and patrol the streets? Incredible!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Dunno.... the unmarked cars I have seen are usually silver or black mid-size cars, something like Corollas. Maybe they have bigger ones for use with hotshots (however, I leave near the retired emperors home with lots of police around, and the same seems to apply.

> > I've never seen a Corolla unmarked police car in Japan, they are usually Crowns, used to see skylines in Yama Guchi, when you come up behind them they all have the same smoked glass windows with 2 rearview mirrors, I don't advise passing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More useless filler from SortaNews24... You should pay electrons more respect.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Another example of an engineer overthinking a problem.

Typical for Japan. 8000 buttons on a TV remote control. 8 million photos and links on a web page. 27 steps to apply for something online, then get a confirmation in the mail that you have to stamp and send back. It's endless.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

All these gadgets and yet they still fail to enforce red light running as a dangerous crime.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Laguna: In which state was your license issued? I ask because only Japan only converts licenses from four states without a driving test.

That has always p'd me off. What makes those states so special? All individual US state licenses are recognized and accepted in all states equally. As such, if Japan accepts licenses from 4 states for direct transfer, they should really accept all US state licenses for transfer.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Back on topic please.

@Laguna: In which state was your license issued? I ask because only Japan only converts licenses from four states without a driving test.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Oh, WTFJapan, don't get me started on that. I never did a driving test in Japan, having transferred over my US driving license, but the tickets I got for minor infractions (do not enter a tramway when waiting to turn!) were much cheaper than taking a class.

In which state was your license issued? I ask because only Japan only converts licenses from four states without a driving test.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Btw: Hey!?! @in_japan 12:59pm!? What’s the conclusion to your story of “my friend” and the JUndercover cops??

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Great story, eh? @TTank 5:50pm. Glad you read it yourself or @Antiquesaving 12:02pm may Again accuse us ...

“As usual, half the information.” -

Mr. Heselden, (RIP), did great things for a great many, including us ‘soldiers & veterans’. Even the NPD and other law enforcement around the world owe him for his contributions, like the Segway.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Here is one piece of advice that is rarely given or mentioning.

Under the Japanese legal system a traffic violation is a criminal offense, yes I know that sounds crazy but it is as was clearly explained to me by not one but 3 lawyers.

The way it works is if you pay the ticket before the date due then no charges are made.

Now if you choose to challenge the ticket then it becomes a criminal mater.

No if you are Japanese this isn't a big problem but if you are a foreigner things get complicated.

If you lose your challenge then that becomes a criminal offense.

Depending on your status Visa, special PR, PR) you may find yourself losing you permission to remain in Japan, if you are on a visa it is near 100% certain your visa is voided and you will be removed from Japan, the other 2 PR and Special PR are different, special PR (multi generation Korean or Chinese) you shouldn't have any problems, regular PR is a 50/50 thing, they may overlook it or you may get a zealot that decides the law is the law and out you go.

So keep this in mind.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Wow! Hidden lights come on...that's fantastic! Just like in the UK for at least 30 years.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I would ask them to show you that law, I did my motorcycle licence in Japan and you are only suppose to put your left foot down for safety reasons.

Listen, mate. Cops are the law here, and in the case of minor traffic violations, you are pretty much onto a loser if you quibble whatever country you may be in. Unless, like Antiquesaving, you have a cast iron defence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Antiquesaving - that would have been great fun to watch had you captured it on video!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The Transformer police car is a Decepticon that has the motto 'to punish and enslave' written on it.

Take from that what you will about the intentions of the Japanese police force.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I only put one foot on the ground instead of both

I would ask them to show you that law, I did my motorcycle licence in Japan and you are only suppose to put your left foot down for safety reasons.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One thing I have noticed about the keystones when they are out hunting for running stops or talking on the ketai is they are only out when the weather is nice, too hot, cold or rainy .....you never see them

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Recommended reading: J traffic cops ‘taken to ‘school’ by 2 local obasans! Classic!

If you haven’t read @Antiquesaving’s 9:36am story, please do so.

Awesome ending! They deserve ‘a bag of kaki’ or, something as a reward.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Got stopped doing 110 in a 40 area. Totally safe place. The cops let me off because they were scared of my big dog. Another time I was stopped by another undercover car. I got a ticket for turning right while following NAVI instructions.

after that I spent some time parked in front of the gates at my area police station in the morning. They only have eight undercover cars. All sedans. I know the model, color and plate numbers. I sometimes see them around. But of course, I don’t do anything wrong so I don’t have to worry...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The J-cops need to stop red light running, not sneak around in unmarked cars.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How would they know you were simply coasting??

My point was that the speed trap was set in a place where you had to brake on a straight just to be within the speed limit. I go over 50kph at the same place on a bicycle. The fact that my car was coasting just makes it more ironic.

If the police wanted to increase road safety, they would fine people for going through red lights or not stopping at pedestrian crossings. Most serious accidents happen at junctions. Springing out on people going downhill or driving on straight roads through paddies just encourages people to think they are after fines as extra police income.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

 In my experience, higher-end plain black cars in Japan usually carry the following people: high-level company executives or government officials, the yaks, unmarked police, the elite

Dunno.... the unmarked cars I have seen are usually silver or black mid-size cars, something like Corollas. Maybe they have bigger ones for use with hotshots (however, I leave near the retired emperors home with lots of police around, and the same seems to apply.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When they said Transformer-style, I was honestly expecting a more dramatic change in the car's looks. Nice car though. To be honest, unmarked police cars are like plain clothes police officers, you'll quickly learn to identify them once you see them a lot. In my experience, higher-end plain black cars in Japan usually carry the following people: high-level company executives or government officials, the yaks, unmarked police, the elite. For plain clothes police officers, they generally have a sharper and well-kept appearance than a regular person for their demographic and usually wears a baggier top to conceal their firearm, radio and handcuffs.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Where I live in Shikoku, the police only come out to set up traps around railway crossings to catch people that dont make a full stop.

Oh, WTFJapan, don't get me started on that. I never did a driving test in Japan, having transferred over my US driving license, but the tickets I got for minor infractions (do not enter a tramway when waiting to turn!) were much cheaper than taking a class.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So a flashing light pops out. That is not exactly "transformer style".

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Another example of an engineer overthinking a problem.

Many countries just use a high mounted internal light bar across the top of the front and rear windows. If done well it is far easier than cutting a hole in the roof, along with all of the associated motors for the flippy lid, light platform, waterproofing etc etc.

exactly.

these crowns with holes are...weird and ugly by my opinion.

compare to unmarked police cars in my country these looks funny.

one more thing to mention.

nroaml olice car when driving on street makes warning lights on for no reason/just without siren/.once these sheriffs have follwoed in countryside for abt 20kms /maybe checking if i did not exceed speed limit 50km/h/ but yes was a rainy evening and my eyes get tired from tehes red lights behind me.Once at traffic lights i have stopped car and asked politely if they can switch off these light as my eyes and tired and guess what...nothing happened.Than i let them go and they drove at front of me another 10kms speed exactly 40km/h....what a /you know what i mean/...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If they really want people to obey traffic laws, they would maintain a visible presence, which would encourage people to drive within the law.

If they only want to generate revenue, they will sneakily hide and wait until someone breaks the law, then issue a fine.

The former prevents the infraction, making society safer. The latter allows the infraction to occur in order to make money, making society less safe in the process.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They've been around for years, what prompted this article?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

One of my Japanese friend during his young days bought those fake blinking/waring lights from DIY store (inspired by some Hollywood movies) in order to pretend himself as one of these undercover cops. So he started showing those lights to random cars at national highway until he met one of these undercover cops. Yup he tried to pull one of the undercover cars.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Bungle: he said it was because I only put one foot on the ground instead of both!

No wonder I see people riding weirdly on scooters with both legs hanging, almost touching grounds :D

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It's all about the Fukuzawa Yukichis: $$$

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wow real high tech police toy bwahaha! What i hate the most driving are these traffic lights still early century tech no sensors to judge whether there are cars or pedestrians or not causing more stopping and traffic jams.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I never underestimate the Japanese police when it comes to popping up out of nowhere and giving you a ticket. They are so slick. It's art of the ambush with them. In my area they post police officers in plain clothes with headset radios on one corner watching for people who aren't wearing their seat belts, and then they net any violators at the next corner after being contacted. And that's just one of many example.

Nothing new done in many countries.

In my country the police use a city commuter bus with plain closed officers using cameras recording people using their phones then up ahead police are waiting to stop them and give tickets, being high up they can get a clear view into the car get a good video of the driver using their phone as evidence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Our favorites are the JPD officers with red flashing lights ‘on top of their helmets’ riding on Segways while chasing ‘discourteous, sweaty joggers and cross-walk avoiding ‘jaywalkers’. The increase in Segway licensing and traffic violations will definitely increase tax revinue for the local governments and NPD. Today’s “National” news story: “Segways soon to be permitted on public roads and new rules in the works for electric scooters.” Unfortunately, our family, older model Segways don’t transform like the ’Cool Japan’ versions do.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Please refrain from posting in bold face and only use italics when you are quoting another poster.

Oddly enough on Friday I just had a little interaction with an unmarked police car, no flip up light, just grill lights and the old out the window magnetic roof one.

Just pulled out of my house parking drove to the first corner slowed down when through the intersection, then the lights came on told to pull over and stop.

They wanted to ticket me for not stopping at a stop sign.

I got out and laught and said Ok if they can show me what stop sign I didn't stop at I would pay my ticket and every ticket they gave that day.

The officer points to a stop sign.

Again I laugh saying that is the other direction, he looks confused says there is one in both directions,

I say " Ok lets go see, we walk to the corner he stands next to a sign post hidden by the neighbour's trees says "this stop sign" again laughing I pull back the tree branches to reveal a no parking sign, point to the road on all 4 corners and say " only on corner has a stop sign and only one corner has, 止まれ written on the pavement. The two officers looked dumbfounded, 4 corners only one stop.

This is a bit of a nosy shitamachi area so a couple of the local nosy obasans came out to see what was going on,

So I told them, they all laughed telling the police there had always only been one stop sign for decades.

Anyway the police seemed not happy with the old ladies laughing and not sure about some of what the old ladies were says as this area often speak a bit of an Edoben, but the police got in their car and left.

Not saying anything to me, no sorry, oops we are wrong, etc.. just took off without a word.

I sort of felt bad for them, these two old ladies are the neighbourhood's nosiest and can really get under most people's skin, but this time I was well entertained by their actions.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

I was booked not for overusing the gas pedal but for simply rolling down the road.

How would they know you were simply coasting??

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I remember in Indonesia and the Philippines they sold these fake police sirens on the streets that you can attach to your car. The roads are so congested that people just buy these fake sirens and use them to bypass traffic.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Wow. Unmarked cop cars. That has to be something only the Japanese police force could have thought of.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I never underestimate the Japanese police when it comes to popping up out of nowhere and giving you a ticket. They are so slick. It's art of the ambush with them. In my area they post police officers in plain clothes with headset radios on one corner watching for people who aren't wearing their seat belts, and then they net any violators at the next corner after being contacted. And that's just one of many example.

A very "slick" plan indeed, which can only be defeated by the cunning strategy of... Wearing your seatbelt.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

The state of New York clearly warns you when you enter that there's police in unmarked vehicles. Then again, I was on the New York State Thruway which had toll booths. Now much of it is electronic - you pass under an overpass of cameras and then later you pay your toll at home. Still, the troopers are still there. Watch out.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I saw one this weekend!

It reminds me of the old 70's and 80's cop shows in the US. The pursuing cops would throw a magnetic flashing siren with a cord to the roof of the car from the window and make chase.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I never underestimate the Japanese police when it comes to popping up out of nowhere and giving you a ticket. They are so slick. It's art of the ambush with them. In my area they post police officers in plain clothes with headset radios on one corner watching for people who aren't wearing their seat belts, and then they net any violators at the next corner after being contacted. And that's just one of many example.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Some months later I arrived at the exact same stop sign, only this time I noticed the (same) officer there. So, in an exaggerated fashion, I put both my feet on the road and looked both left and right very carefully before proceeding on my journey.

The dirty look the cop gave me was priceless!

4 ( +9 / -5 )

 I asked the cop why he was ticketing me and he said it was because I only put one foot on the ground instead of both!

This may explain why so many people here ride scooters with both feet dangling off the sides. Extremely unsafe riding habits.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Best to have inside lights as that makes it more Unmarked, that a light popping up, still wont be that visible, maybe increase the volume of the Siren, and make the driving lights blink at the same time. No rear lights also, so maybe its a work in progress.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Then the rozzers jumped out from behind some dumpsters and grabbed me. I asked the cop why he was ticketing me and he said it was because I only put one foot on the ground instead of both!

In traffic rule there's no rule that specified exactly you need both feet but there is rule that can give penalty for unsafe behavior. Which is really general and ticket can be issued for anything that they considered unsafe behavior.

However I saw many times people with scooters turn off their scooter machine and walkthrough their scooter through pedestrian and use zebra cross to save time. After that they continue to turn on their scooter and ride again. That behavior is considered safe behavior according to that rule.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Where I live in Shikoku, the police only come out to set up traps around railway crossings to catch people that dont make a full stop. The rest of the time you see kids standing in the passenger seats/on daddys lap while driving/grandma holding child etc etc on the daily, especially when i drop off my child at his kindergaten. People using smartphones while driving, all day ever day. Burnt-out headlights/break lights. running red lights. and the list goes on and on. But, lets set up a trap to catch those that dont make a full stop at the railway crossing, at the same place, once a month. GREAT JOB COPPERS!

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Then the rozzers jumped out from behind some dumpsters and grabbed me. I asked the cop why he was ticketing me and he said it was because I only put one foot on the ground instead of both!

At a stop sign, they'll ticket you if you do not come to a complete stop, Very close to a complete stop will not cut it. The wheels must stop rolling altogether.

I've been done speeding, seventy in a fifty, on a straight road at the bottom of a hill. It was in a Prius and as a hybrid, the car was freewheeling with the engine stopped. I was booked not for overusing the gas pedal but for simply rolling down the road.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Nice driving, Witwicky! Was that truck “Optimius”? @JJ Jetplane 7:22am. ‘Yours’ is, at least, relatively a “Crime” story. This article reads more like “Tech” than “Crime” but will stimulate more sharing of teenage ‘running from the law’ stories. Back to read more comments and ‘war stories’ later.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan’s Superior Robot Technology Always Exceeds Any Other Developments by Any Other Country on the Earth! -Oh, well. Like the headline, it got our attention for a moment. -

This being Japan,...the police cars are essentially ‘mechanical cousins to transforming robots.”

Well, maybe that’s a bit of a s-t-r-e-t-c-h, don’t ya think?. - Anyway, ‘Transformer’ police cruisers were usually the ‘bad guyDecepticons, like ‘Barricade’. - (A great ‘news’ story from a YouTuber?)

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Got ticketed one day for “ignoring” a stop sign while on a little scooter. Thing is, I had stopped before the stop line and was holding the brakes to keep me from rolling.

Then the rozzers jumped out from behind some dumpsters and grabbed me. I asked the cop why he was ticketing me and he said it was because I only put one foot on the ground instead of both!

22 ( +25 / -3 )

Another example of an engineer overthinking a problem.

Many countries just use a high mounted internal light bar across the top of the front and rear windows. If done well it is far easier than cutting a hole in the roof, along with all of the associated motors for the flippy lid, light platform, waterproofing etc etc.

28 ( +28 / -0 )

I almost got pulled over by one of these unmarked cars one time coming over the Akashi Kaikyo. When I saw those lights start, I swerved between a truck quickly and hit those breaks. I was super lucky they didn't catch me.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

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