The usually separate phenomena of a street car takeover and flash mob shoplifting have coalesced in Los Angeles this week, prompting authorities to sound the alarm.
A sideshow – the name given when a group of cars take over a street and block traffic to make way for circular burnouts called donuts – saw a crowd of people trash a 7-Eleven early Monday , Los Angeles police said.
The takeover and mass robbery was captured on security video the Los Angeles Police Department released Thursday. Traffic investigators are asking for help in identifying the suspected looters.
“Store CCTV showed the looters fanning out through the store and seizing all snacks, beverages, cigarettes, lotto tickets and other merchandise,” the LAPD said in a statement.
“Looters also vandalized the store and threw merchandise at employees.”
The LAPD has warned the public against side shows and smash-and-grab shoplifting since last year when groups of people rushed into a series of retailers and seized goods.
“Flash mobs have evolved from fun spontaneous events to opportunistic criminal events,” the LAPD said this week.
Combining large groups of people and fast cars can be deadly.
Rally racing moved away from larger, spectator events in the late 1980s after a number of deaths of high-level spectators on dirt tracks. And just last year in Houston, three spectators were killed when a speeding Camaro hit them on a sidewalk, officials said.
Last month, a 21-year-old man was shot and killed during a July 3 street takeover in South Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, a Change.org The petition urged the city of Los Angeles and regional authorities to take action against side shows that have become “ubiquitous”.
The events create “unsafe traffic conditions for all citizens and impede traffic with crowd-like intersection takeovers,” he said.
Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that allows courts to suspend a driver’s license for takeover participants. A proposal to extend the law including events on private property made its way through the legislature this year.
Police also used equipment violations and 30-day vehicle seizures to crack down on the rallies.
Lili Trujillo Puckett founded the nonprofit Street racing kills after his 16-year-old daughter, Valentina, was killed in a racing vehicle nearly a decade ago.
She favors repression but also pushes for a legal alternative: racetracks that host similar events.
She said she doesn’t know of any place in Southern California that hosts formal donut-making events, which most closely resembles derivative in the world of organized and sanctioned motorsport.
“The city should invest in trails,” Puckett said. “We have to give them [participants] a place to go.”
So far, the government’s response to street takeovers in California has been to try to root them out.
The LAPD tried to fight takeovers and other “illegal activities” on the city’s new Sixth Street Bridge by strengthening road control since the end of July.
In March, the Long Beach police tracked a vehicle who they believe was involved in a street takeover event that included around 50 cars. The Nissan 350Z was seized in Simi Valley, a town 65 miles north.
One night in May, the LAPD cracked down on street takeovers across the city and county as part of a multi-jurisdictional task force that made 23 misdemeanor arrests, seized 14 vehicles and made 30 stops of traffic, the LAPD said.
In 2018, the California Highway Patrol created a task force to focus on street takeovers, which it said were often showcases for powerful vehicles that can easily injure onlookers.
The CHP’s Oakland office has its own “sideshow detail”, which works with the city’s police.
In San Jose, a spectator was seriously injured on July 31, 2021, during one of several car flash-mob events taking place in the city that night, police said. Officers issued 17 equipment citations.
Days earlier, a resident on the 32nd floor of a downtown San Diego high-rise captured video of an emerging takeover and spectacle at one of the city’s busiest intersections. town.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Anne Christensen NBC San Diego. “I thought someone was going to get killed over there.”
Takeovers and sideshows flourished on the West Coast and in Las Vegas and spread to the highways of Southern California.
Police say participants in Monday’s takeover later blocked the lanes of the 110 Freeway, which leads to downtown, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Eric Mendoza and Andrew Blankstein contributed.