Four top law-enforcement officials in the Harris County region warned Thursday of severe consequences for those plotting illegal “street takeovers” to promote street racing or reckless driving like recent events in Austin and Houston.
Several people were injured in Austin – including a police officer – when large groups of people blocked intersections two weekends ago to race vehicles, do “doughnuts,” set fires and light fireworks. A similar event involving 200 cars in Houston last weekend resulted in multiple arrests, including one for felony child endangerment.
District Attorney Kim Ogg, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Assistant Houston Police Chief Wyatt Martin and DPS Regional Director Gerald Brown said such events are extremely dangerous to participants and nearby motorists and that the local response to such events will be swift and aggressive.
“These are people who clearly value their cars more than they value the safety of motorists around them,” Ogg said. “So our message to them is simple and clear. You will be arrested and prosecuted. And if you take over our streets, we will take over your cars.”
State law allows the District Attorney’s Office to pursue forfeiture of vehicles that are used in such cases of organized criminal activity. The office has seized more than 200 vehicles involved in similar activity in the past two years, and Ogg said her office will continue to use the law aggressively.
Gonzalez said cooperation is key to successful intervention.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder in our efforts to double down on our mission to keep racing on the tracks and off our streets,” he said. “Don’t risk your life or the lives of others. The short-lived adrenaline and thrill aren't worth a lifetime of heartache and devastation, if an innocent life is lost.
“Last year, our Traffic Crimes Unit made 400 arrests, 49 guns were taken off the streets, 30 vehicles were seized, and 17 stolen vehicles were recovered,” he continued. “We cannot do this alone. This truly is a collaborative effort on all fronts. It takes all of us doing our part to address this serious issue.”
In their remarks, Houston Assistant Police Chief Wyatt Martin and Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Gerald Brown emphasized the interagency partnership as well and urged the public to report takeovers to law enforcement.
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