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Copied in full from http://www.uniontrib.com/news/metro/20011216-9999_1m16arrests.html.

<b>Street drag racing leads to sweep by local police</b>




Team arrests 8, impounds seven cars during operation

By Terry Rodgers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

December 16, 2001

Hoping to put the skids to a dangerous pastime, San Diego police yesterday served arrest warrants on young adults suspected of participating in illegal street drag racing.

They were hauled out of bed in the early morning, handcuffed and escorted to patrol cars as their shocked and often embarrassed parents watched and alarmed neighbors peeked from behind drawn curtains.

Welcome to Operation Wake Up Call, the latest attempt by authorities to put a dent in youths' enthusiasm to be as cool behind the wheel as James Dean or Richard Petty.

Moving quickly before 7 a.m., a special operations team involving a dozen officers scattered across the county from National City to Oceanside in search of 20 drag-racing suspects. They netted eight arrests and impounded seven vehicles. The warrants remain active on the others, who could be arrested in future sweeps.

Those targeted by the operation ran the gamut from repeat offenders to first-time arrestees, police said. One of those picked up yesterday is charged with acting as the starter for the dragsters and faces 89 counts of acting as an accomplice for his participation in the races.

For the alleged perpetrators, the cost for bail, court-imposed fines and storage fees to reclaim their vehicles typically totals $5,000 by the time it's all over, police said.

One father clad in only his slippers and underwear was surprised and humiliated when he realized his son's arrest was being captured on videotape for a local television station.

"Jeez, it's like we're Public Enemy No. 1 here," said Richard Perry. "This is crazy. My son has never even gotten a ticket before."

Later, he admitted he has been concerned about the company his son has been keeping.

"I didn't think he'd be doing something stupid like street racing," Perry said.

The beleaguered dad from Clairemont cooperated fully with police. He voluntarily backed his son's souped-up, pearl-white Honda Accord out of the garage so police could tow it away. The car will sit in the storage yard for a minimum of 30 days, accumulating daily impound fees.

Asked how he will explain his arrest to his father, John R. Perry, 23, professed his innocence. "I don't even race, so he won't care," he said.

But the message police wish to deliver is as black and white as their patrol cars: Go drag racing today and you might get dragged away to jail tomorrow.

The crackdown on street drag racing is just beginning and will continue to unfold as police reap the results of ongoing undercover investigations from the newly formed Drag Net Unit, said Assistant Police Chief William A. Maheu.

He declined to describe the methods police may have used -- such as hidden video cameras -- to gather evidence against the alleged drag racers.

"This sends a message that any time there's illegal drag racing out there, (police) are watching," he said.

The renewed emphasis is the result of a $400,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety earmarked for enforcement against illegal drag racing, Maheu said.

Police said those arrested yesterday were offered a free pass to participate in a legal racing program at Qualcomm Stadium called Racelegal.com that is sponsored by San Diego State University.

The popularity of late-night racing is a problem that is increasing locally and nationwide, said San Diego police Sgt. Greg Sloan.

Sloan said San Diego is one of the state's largest hotbeds for hot-rodding, adding that it also is reaching epidemic proportions in San Jose, Riverside and Ontario.

During one two-month period in 1998, eight people in the county died as a result of street-racing crashes, he said. Police could not cite any local deaths or injuries since then.

"We're trying to prevent a catastrophe," Sloan said.

Popular spots for illegal racing include Kearny Villa Road near state Route 163, Via Rancho Parkway outside Escondido and Sorrento Valley Road near Carmel Valley, police said.

The biggest impromptu car rallies have involved up to 1,200 vehicles and a few thousand spectators, who typically cram into a straightaway portion of suburban highway to hold competitions.

"They are basically driving over the feet of spectators out there," Sloan said.

Custom auto-parts shops that cater to street racers have increased from a couple in the 1970s to more than 500 countywide today, he said.

In Linda Vista, overlooking Mission Bay, Officers Steven Bourasa and Robert Hawkins caught up with Jason King, 20, as he returned from work on the night shift at a discount store.

Tears filled the eyes of Jason's aunt as her nephew was led away to a patrol car while his neighbors watched.

Bourasa told her that she would have to find a way to raise $2,500 bail to get her nephew out of jail. As for the car, it will remain impounded for at least a month, he said.

Jason's aunt, who identified herself only as Sandi, said using traditional hard-line, punitive police tactics won't change an illicit pastime that's generations old.

"Dying doesn't send a message to them," she said. "Getting arrested doesn't either. I don't know what will. These kids are in their own little world. It's their families and loved ones that sit home and cry.

"You can't just lock them all up. Street racing has been going on since Ford came out with the Model T."

As she spoke, a TV news crew focused its camera on a bumper sticker on Jason's souped-up Honda. It read, "Street Racing Is Against the Law."

Terry Rodgers: (619) 542-4566; [email protected]




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I guess the words, " Take it to the track." Don't mean anything to them, oh well. Thats there loss.


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that sucks. but the really ****ed up part that gets me is the end of that article. they arrested the kid for street racing, yet in plain sight there is a stick that says <b>street racing is against the law</b> could the cops not see that? i'd take the state to court if i were him. then again he could be getting cited for something other than racing.


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Just cause he has a sticker does not mean he does not race.

This is a little on the extreme side I think.

Instead of dropping $400,000 in busting these kids they should build a track where they can legally race for free. Set it up just like it would be on the streets except spectators at a safe distance. Keep it open til they are ready to go home and only allow street legal cars. $400,000 would build one hell of a track.

I agree with keeping it off the streets but the only way to do it is to kive them an alternative that will make them want to keep it off the street. Basically these kids do not want to be waiting an hour between races just to get thrown up against some blown mod V8 that is a dedicated dace car.


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I have two simple wordst. **** THAT. When we race. We know the risks we take. They never mention the thousands of kids at those "organized street races" that are simply there so that they can have something to do. There parents dont care. Neither do their friends. I feel good knowing there with us instead of out ****ing around and getting all messed up. Drag racing gives us a passion. It always has. Not to mention the simple fact that what the police did was illegal.

We dont care. We never have. We will line up. WE will race. And we will be safe.

Hell half of us WOULD take it to the track if there was one within 300 ****ing miles.

This article pisses me off and the java script for this websites making me mad cause its only catching half of what im saying.

Bugs.


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Sorry to say it dude but their is NO safety regulations at these street races.<img src=/images/forums/snitz/disapprove.gif width=15 height=15 border=0>
For starters there is nothing seperating the spectatators from the cars and when was the last time you saw any safety measures taken at an illegal street race?

I am not saying i have never raced illegally and yes generally speaking these races are safer than your average rev at the stoplight race but you are only kidding yourself if you think they are totally safe. All it takes is one mess up to wipe out a hole bunch of spectators.

Like I said from my previous post I do not think the measures that the police are taking here are correct but they are not illegal either.
It is called a sting opperation and is 100% legal.<img src=/images/forums/snitz/thumbup.gif width=25 height=18 border=0>


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Id to see the "proof" they used to get the warrents for those arrests.. thats all im saying... and PS.. nothing is 100% legal...

Bugs


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#1 the state is spending $400,000 on this sting opperation so it is aproved through the courts. Which makes the operation legal.(Yes 100% legal)

#2 I am sure the cops did not forget to get the warrants and then called the telvision crews to film the arrests.<img src=/images/forums/snitz/laugh.gif width=15 height=31 border=0>

#3 It really does not seem that you quite have a full grasp of how our legal system works. I would suggest you study it a lil. It may help you out in the future.<img src=/images/forums/snitz/thumbup.gif width=25 height=18 border=0>

I have said it several times already, I do not agree with these tactics but they are legal. (yes 100% legal) But just cause they are legal it does not mean that the racers could not win there caes in court.<img src=/images/forums/snitz/thumbup.gif width=25 height=18 border=0>


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