SAN DIEGO — The number of so-called 'side shows' and illegal street racing events are continuing to climb, and San Diego Police are taking action to crack down on these "take-over" events.
Throughout the entire state, the number of citations for these incidents has increased by 300% recent years, according to the CHP.
On the state level, new legislation also promises to crack down on this dangerous and sometimes deadly activity.
"It is incredibly dangerous," said Lt. Adam Sharki of the San Diego Police Department. "It is unsafe for the community, and the police department is aggressively going after these events,"
These events include one last month in Mission Valley in which a driver 'took over' Camino de la Reina at Hotel Circle, endangering the lives of dozens of spectators.
Last October in Otay Mesa, a young man was struck and killed by a driver who lost control during a street race.
San Diego Police are now taking action, since the beginning of this year, its investigators have identified the vehicles and drivers of more than 170 of these incidents.
So far, they've impounded 34 of those cars, and are working to seize about two dozen more.
"While this may seem like innocent fun to some people, there is a lot of property damage that occurs, there's injuries and we have had deaths at these events," Sharki told CBS 8.
Lili Trujillo and Lori Argumedo know this all too well.
Lori's 16-year-old daughter Valentina was killed in a street racing accident in 2013, while Lori's 23-year-old niece Bethany was killed in a similar way in 2019.
"I had to identify her body on Mother's Day," Argumedo said. "We spent all Mother's Day in the hospital just praying that my nephew was going to survive."
They now devote their lives to a non-profit called Street Racing Kills, using their personal losses to provide outreach and education to young people throughout California on the dangers of illegal street racing and sideshows.
"They just never think that it's going to happen to them," Trujillo said "They don't think they're the ones who are going to jail, they don't think they're going to kill someone or that they're going to get hurt...until it happens."
They're also optimistic that recent statewide legislation will make a difference, including a bill signed into law last year that allows the courts to suspend the license of a driver participating in a 'sideshow' on a public street.
That law could be expanded this year through another bill which would include parking lots as well.
Another bill currently making progress in Sacramento would increase funding for local and state law enforcement to go after these participants.
"The use of cars as weapons are not victimless crimes," State Senator Henry Stern said earlier this year.
Authorities also warn that being a spectator at one of these 'takeover' events is also illegal.
Penalties for participating can include fines, losing your license and vehicle , and even jail time.
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