Detroit’s new cop cars sport stolen image of cityscape (Updated)


Update: Photographer Bobby Alcott now says the images that are identical were on mock-ups given to the media. The actual squad cars contain a different image.   

Detroit’s sleek new police cars and ambulances, which were unveiled to the public today, feature a beautiful image of the city’s skyline.

It didn’t take local photographer Bobby Alcott long to notice that the cityscape was suspiciously similar to a photo he had taken and copyrighted in 2006. He examined the images closely and discovered that the cloud pattern, lights and small details were all the same.

There was no doubt it was his image.

“Detroit is unveiling 100 new police cars right now — and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, who has donated $8 million to lease the cars to the City, has STOLEN MY PHOTO to use on the cars,” Alcott posted on Facebook. “I’m REALLY SICK of being ripped off. PLEASE SHARE THIS so maybe I can be compensated for the blatant ripoff that the Downtown Detroit Partnership has committed.”

Alcott said no he gave no one permission to use the image, which is registered with the Library of Congress.

BobbyAlcottThe cars were purchased by a handful of downtown businesses that pledged $8 million for 23 ambulances and 100 squad cars.

It’s unclear who is to blame. Neither the city nor business leaders could be immediately reached for comment.

The donors include Penske Automotive Group, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Quicken Loans.

“I would get a lawyer and file a complaint — pronto!” one Facebook user wrote.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.