By Rocco Parascandola, Staff Writer
Infiniti prides itself on quality and luxury. Now the car has a less desirable association: The NYPD has told its officers to watch for a backseat compartment that can easily hide a gun.
According to an internal police memo obtained by Newsday, officers on Staten Island were alarmed to learn that the 2006 Infiniti G35 is equipped with a hidden backseat storage area.
Police supervisors were notified and the department issued a memo to all commands.
"Uniformed members of the service are cautioned to use extreme vigilance and remain alert for hidden compartments when conducting car stops and searching vehicles," the memo reads.
An accompanying photo shows a handgun fitting into the compartment, which is located on the side of a larger compartment that holds cups and can be lifted and pushed into the backseat, out of view.
An NYPD spokesman said the memo was the result of police learning of the compartment from another law enforcement agency. It was not discovered during a police investigation, such as searching the car of a drug suspect.
Infiniti was surprised to learn of the memo.
A company spokesman said the 2006 G35, as well as the 2007 model - which cost about $31,000 each - comes equipped with a standard first aid kit. The location? The secret compartment.
"That's what the spot is for," said Infiniti spokesman Scott Vazin. "It's not for any illegal contraband, such as weapons. It's certainly not the intention we had, to promote illicit activity. Infiniti is about luxury and performance."
Criminals routinely have secret compartments - sometimes accessible only by pushing buttons on the car's stereo or by connecting hidden wires - built into their vehicles to hold guns, drugs and cash.
In July, for instance, police found a hidden storage area under the central console of a 2006 Nissan belonging to an alleged Manhattan drug dealer.
Two years ago, police in Spanish Harlem who pulled over a man driving erratically found drugs on the backseat of the 1996 Mercury, and a further search of the car revealed a hidden motorized trapdoor behind the backseat. Police needed a hammer to pry open the door.
Inside, they found more than four kilograms of cocaine and crack, a loaded pistol, 200 bullets, a scale and more than $10,000 in cash.
Copyright 2006 Newsday, Inc.
NYPD alerted to use of 'secret' compartment in Infiniti G35