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Police Deal With Street Racing Episodes That Turn Fatal

Hundreds of cars and dozens of spectators packed the parking lots of a Virginia shopping center on a Saturday night, leaving behind rubber tire marks burned onto the pavement and scattered trash. A week later in suburban Maryland, crowds outside a movie theater watched as a band of cars blocking an intersection spun doughnuts, filling the air with clouds of smoke and the roars of engine revs. Police around the U.S. have raised alarms over an uptick of unruly car events or street racing that have disrupted traffic, resulted in crashes or ended with fatalities. At least one state changed the law to make burnouts and doughnuts illegal, and police departments nationwide have launched new enforcement initiatives to crack down. Suburban Montgomery County, Md., responded to more than 100 cars — including some coming from as far away as New Jersey, Delaware and southern Virginia — converged in a Target parking lot. “A lot of time, these could be pretty benign events. ... It was kind of a covid-friendly pastime where you could meet in the parking lot and kind of show your cars off, be outside and still interact,” said one officer. The concern , is “it wouldn’t take much for an instance like this to go from a kind of unified rally ... to a violent episode.” Ten days after the Maryland State Police announced an initiative against street racing, police issued more than 300 traffic citations and warnings during a four-day period. “I’m more concerned that our shopping centers are starting to look like drag strips when they leave,” said one Virginia woman during a community meeting. “They’re literally defacing it with the rubber burn marks all over the parking lines and also they’re leaving trash behind. ... These are shopping centers that are privately owned. And the owners of these shopping centers shouldn’t have to deal with that.”


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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