Here is the NY Times article:
Police Say Placard Misled Them Into Overlooking a Suspect Van in Times Square
The vehicle’s owner, meanwhile, was arrested and charged with a felony.
The van was reported to the police Wednesday morning by a security officer at Condé Nast, which has offices in Times Square. The authorities closed nearby streets for two hours and evacuated part of the Condé Nast and Nasdaq buildings as bomb squad officers arrived with a robot to search the vehicle.
The windows on the vehicle, a white 1997 Dodge Ram Van, had been blacked out, and it had no license plates. It had been parked on Broadway between 41 and 42nd Streets since Monday, and it should have aroused police suspicions before officers were called to investigate, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.
“We certainly would have preferred to have found it earlier; we think we should have,” Mr. Browne said. “But we appreciate the fact that an alert security person from Condé Nast did.”
The episode put a spotlight on the department’s security strategies just before the annualNew Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.
Mr. Browne said that the windshield placard made the van appear to be an official law enforcement vehicle. He said it “may have misled traffic enforcement agents who would otherwise have paid closer attention to it.”
The placard was produced by a group that charges $20 a piece for such items, and it was “clearly designed to try to avoid parking summonses,” Mr. Browne said.
The van’s owner, George Freyer, 36, of New Jersey, was arrested about 6 p.m. Thursday after arriving with his lawyer at the Midtown South station house. He was charged with possession of a forged instrument, a felony, and a lesser charge that was not immediately clear. The felony charge, the police said, was related to an expired out-of-state vehicle registration document on which a new expiration date had been written by hand.
The police said the van was loaded with folding tables and scarves, and they did not believe that Mr. Freyer intended any harm.
Mr. Browne said traffic enforcement agents, who are Police Department employees, were educated about the proper use of official parking placards and dashboard-mounted permits. He said the placard discovered in the van would be added to a list of “photographs of bogus placards” to help the traffic agents perform their jobs.