SYLMAR (CBSLA) - The Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Traffic Division set up a sting with California Highway Patrol Sunday to stop street racers in their tracks.
The operation included some 54 officers who gathered for a briefing before fanning out across the valley.
"We wanna solve the problem," Sgt. Jodie McGee with LAPD Valley Traffic said, "and the only way to solve the problem is arresting these guys and hitting them where it counts and that's where it cost them money."
McGee, who headed up the operation, said it's never hard to see where the racers have been, though catching them in the act is more often the hard part.
"They'll be under-covers in the area. They keep us posted on what's going on. If they leave, then they'll follow them and let us know exactly where they're going," McGee told CBSLA's Joy Benedict.
By 8 p.m. officers were aware of social media reports mentioning a gathering of street racers in Sylmar. As police met nearby, awaiting an exact location, the group of racers got on the freeway and were able to shake the undercover officers tailing them.
However, some of the vehicles suspected of being involved in illegal racing were spotted. Officers swooped in, rounding up about a dozen vehicles in Shadow Hills and detaining the drivers.
None of the suspects wanted to admit why they were there, according to reporting by CBSLA's Joy Benedict who was embedded with Sgt. McGee during the operation, because being a spectator is against the law and is punishable by fine.
However, since police did not witness any actual illegal racing, everyone rounded up was released with a warning.
A video on social media of a red Camaro involved in illegal racing, footage that can be used as evidence, was spotted and stopped about 11 miles from where officers rounded up the other vehicles. The driver was arrested, booked and released. His Camaro was impounded.
"So, it'll be impounded for 30 days," Sgt. McGee told the driver.
In all, the sting brought in 84 citations, four impounds and two arrests.
"Our job is to keep the public safe and this is what we're trying to do," Officer McGee said.
The penalty for illegal street racing is a misdemeanor, with fines making what law enforcement says the biggest impact. LAPD and many residents would like to see the fines increased to try and discourage racing and possibly institute some type of mandatory community service if convicted of illegally racing.
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