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Street racing task force impounds 20 cars
The San Joaquin County Street Racing Task Force impounded 20 vehicles and arrested 13 people over the weekend in a crackdown on illegal street racing and sideshows across the county.

The message that the newly-formed San Joaquin County Street Racing Task Force sent this past weekend was clear – don’t do it here.

More than 100 motorists were cited across the county as part of the multijurisdictional saturation effort to stamp out illegal street racing and sideshows – hoping that a show of force will send the message that such activities are dangerous, not legal, and not wanted in or around the county.

Several of the motorists attempted to flee the scene in their vehicles when officers converged on the gatherings. A CHP air unit was able to track the drivers and allow ground patrol units to converge on them before they were able to escape. All those motorists – 13 in total – were arrested and booked into the San Joaquin County Jail.

A total of 20 vehicles were impounded as a result of the operation.

And the group may have prevented a young female from becoming a victim as well.

According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, the task force received word during their operations about a female minor from Southern California that was traveling back up the area with an adult male that she had met online. The team was able to work with officers from the community of Chula Vista to identify the young woman and where she was headed and intercede on her behalf – arresting the male and booking him into the San Joaquin County Jail.

While illegal street racing has long been a concern of local law enforcement agencies, sideshows – large gatherings, often in parking lots where cars spin donuts and people stand around filming and listening to music – have become more prevalent in the Central Valley over the last several years, and has garnered the attention of local law enforcement agencies.

While those who participate see the activities as largely harmless, law enforcement views them as destructive and potentially dangerous – even prompting some cities to takes steps to send a message to motorists.

Just recently the City of Lathrop authorized the installation of signs at intersections in the community warning drivers that reckless driving at intersections and on publicly-maintained roads – like spinning donuts at red lights – will not be tolerated and will carry stiff penalties after a number of incidents and close calls brought the activity onto the radar of local elected officials.

“We’ve been pretty good lately about catching them – we got one last week at River Islands and Paradise, out there at the end of River Islands,” Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann said. “When it comes to the task force, it helps to have that level of expertise together on something like this. Stockton PD is the one that runs it, and there are so many codes that are specific to street racing and sideshows and they’re able to do their homework and verify that vehicles are involved and go and impound the cars after the fact.

“In a place like Lathrop with so much surveillance, we can get lots of evidence that vehicles were involved, and then go and impound the car and that is what is really sends a message – it’s a 30-day impound and that’s what really hurts the people involved and when that word gets out it’ll hopefully make a difference.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.