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Sideshows, street takeovers, call them what you will, they’re becoming increasingly becoming a common crime at night in the Los Angeles area. Maybe in your area too? But law enforcement has had enough. It has announced it will impound all cars involved in a takeover, whether participating or spectating. 

What did the police do about the Sixth Street Bridge takeovers?

The recently completed Sixth Street Bridge downtown is hailed for its design, and for opening up Boyle Heights to downtown. It replaced the previous art deco bridge, beautiful and famous as it was, as it crumbled away. But almost immediately, crowds and cars gathered as smoke bellowed from doing donuts from one edge of the bridge to the other.

Crowds hooted and hollered and barely missed being hit in some cases. “We really want to stop this from becoming a new trend, where they think that they show up and take over a street or a freeway or any part of the city,” said LAPD detective Ryan Moreno to Fox LA11. “That they’re just going to be able to do whatever they want. Cars are going to start disappearing real soon.” The bridge is now closed indefinitely to all vehicles.

Do street takeovers cause general crime to rise?

LAPD says there are other problems that come besides doing donuts in the middle of the street. Recently, violent crime has dramatically increased around these takeovers. A teenage boy was killed at one takeover, according to Moreno. And a 7-Eleven was robbed and an employee assaulted during another sideshow. “Some takeovers are crossing over into more of gang-type attitude,” Moreno said.

These takeovers have morphed from traditional street racing, though that continues as well. But there should be a legal venue for these illegal street activities. It is why there was a proliferation of drag strips in the Los Angeles basin in the 1950s and 1960s. 

What did LA do about street racing in the 1950s?

Santa Ana Drag Races
Santa Ana Drag Races At Night, the mid-1950s | Getty

At its peak in the late-1960s, there were around 10 quarter-mile dragstrips scattered between Fontana and San Fernando Valley. And still, more going south in Carlsbad and San Diego, and north in Bakersfield. 

Fontana Drag City
Mickey Thompson Top Fuel dragster at Fontana Drag City 1965 | Getty

They have since been replaced by housing or industrial complexes because of the spike in land values. And as those strips make way for houses, street racing has increased. There should be a way to have sanctioned meets at temporarily converted parking lots or airfields. That is how early dragstrips like Santa Ana and Santa Barbara began in the very early 1950s. 

But in doing research for this post, there is not a hint that someone is considering such an endeavor. So what happens is that laws become tougher, and cities spend money to try and stop it from happening. Like recently in Compton, California. 

Compton thinks it has a solution

Compton has started using Botts Dots, the raised plastic-looking round bumps you see on the highway and in parking lots. Placed in “X” patterns in intersections, it is hoped they will end problems. Unfortunately, takeovers will just move to neighboring Long Beach or Torrance. That’s just throwing the problem over the fence to the adjacent city. 

The police say that before this new change for impounding cars, it would normally take in around 10 participant vehicles. But now, those numbers should substantially increase. It is a legal escalation to fight sideshows. Wouldn’t it be better for all if a legal, sanctioned event, with rules and safety inspections, would happen instead?


Should You Be Worried About an Illegal Street Takeover in Your Town?