It's happening in hard hit areas as dishonest tow truck drivers try to profit on cars badly damaged in the storm.
The NYPD is so concerned about this the auto crime division has undercover roving patrols and they've set up checkpoints.
They gave Eyewitness News exclusive access.
Undercover officers with the NYPD's Auto Crime Division stopped the driver of an out-of-state tow truck to make sure he had the right paperwork and was there to do the job he was contracted for.
It's one of many stops they'll make in the Rockaways where cars were tossed around like toys during the superstorm.
Many will have to be totaled, but the NYPD is concerned about unscrupulous tow truck operators stealing the cars before insurance companies can get to them.
A tow truck driver can get as much as $500 per vehicle at the junkyard.
"New York City has never had an incident like this before, so we reached out to Louisiana State Police and the New Orleans Police Department to see how they dealt with the aftermath of Katrina," said Deputy Inspector Joseph Kenny, NYPD Auto Crime Division.
Deputy Inspector Joseph Kenny says some tow truck drivers are pretending they're contracted by the city and are scamming storm victims by holding their vehicles hostage.
"They're securing real estate throughout the city either legally or illegally and they're stacking cars in these locations and contacting owners and saying we had to tow your car, and now you have to pay me $1,000 storage fee and a $1,000 tow," Kenny said.
So far, police have arrested four unlicensed tow operators and they're on the lookout for more.
The undercover patrol Eyewitness News shadowed in the Rockaways was just one of several working the area.
"I know of one arrest that patrol made in the Howard Beach area where a gentleman was arrested for trying to steal a Porsche out of the flood zones," Kenny said.
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