PANORAMA CITY (CBSLA) — With crowds shutting down busy intersections to watch cars burn rubber on Los Angeles streets with what seems to be increasing frequency, the Los Angeles Police Dept. has decided to dedicate a team officers to crack down on these so-called “sideshows.”
CBS2 News was in Pacoima Friday when officers stopped a vehicle they suspected of being suped up for racing. After inspecting the Acura, they cited the driver for the modification.
“We have a lot of intel that we use within some of the clubs,” said Sgt. Gregory Fuqua with the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division. He said they also use undercover and unmarked vehicles to track the offenders.
Fuqua and six other officers have been tasked with monitoring the sideshows, which are also called “takeovers.” The move follows a recent surge in the number of deaths and injuries resulting from illegal street racing and the spectacles which can attract up to 100 onlookers.
Fuqua took CBS2 to a popular spot for sideshows, which was evident by the circular tire marks streaking the area.
“What’s dangerous about it is you have all these pedestrians on the sidewalk here in these sideshows, and, you know, the vehicle will end up losing control,” said Fuqua. He showed the speed bumps called “rumble strips” police lay down on the street to prevent the gatherings. Drivers, however, have been removing them.
He also showed CBS2 the spike strips used to stop the chaotic gatherings. “Once the black-and-whites move in, at that time, the officers bring up spike strips to deter the violators from leaving or trying to escape.”
In the last month-and-a-half, the officers have arrested over two dozen people.
Their message to those would-be revving revelers: “If you get caught doing it, you are gonna go to jail, you’re gonna get prosecuted, and your vehicle will be impounded,” warned Fuqua.
Police say the sideshows are fueled, in part, by the desire to become social-media-famous. Ironically, the California Highway Patrol over the weekend posted a video on Facebook of a sideshow that shut down the Bay Bridge. One man was arrested and several others cited for modifications.