LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — It’s a typical night for LAPD’s new street racing and tracking unit. When it gets dark, it starts looking for the illegal and dangerous races.

“We’ve had a series of fatalities in the city of LA directly related to illegal street racing,” Sgt. Jesse Garcia said.

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The unit has been out on the streets for a month now. They’ve issued 500 citations and made a number of arrests. Garcia says the races happen in residential and industrial areas.

“A lot of these races are not just for fun. They also involve a lot of money,” Garcia said. “When you start getting money involved, there’s also drugs, alcohol. … It’s not uncommon for a lot of these racers to be armed.”

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The officers in this unit are volunteers who have backgrounds in racing and modified vehicles. They have to be certified to inspect the cars and issue citations.

They saw one modified racing car coming out from under the bridge. Officers checked under the hood and found emissions violations.

Garcia says street racing is surging on LA’s streets because a lot of racers can’t meet the safety specifications to legally race in places like Fontana or Pomona. The unit is doing something new by tracking the racers they stop and cite. They’re working with the DMV to identify repeat offenders, who can end up losing their driving privileges.

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“Right now in LA City, there are no legal places to race,” Garcia said. “Best advice is stay out of the city if you’re going to conduct this sort of activity.”