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4/2/2008
California: Police Raid Car Enthusiast Gathering, Generate Revenue
Police raid Riverside, California parking lot to issue modified car tickets at local car enthusiast gathering.

Parking lot raidNine police agencies in Riverside, California sent more than one hundred police officers to surround a gathering of automotive enthusiasts. Owners of imported sport compact cars had gathered at the Canyon Crossing shopping center on Friday night to swap stories, talk about their passion for cars and show off the latest enhancements to their rides. At around 11pm police surprised participants by blocking all exits with fifty police cruisers. Officers then began a warrantless search and interrogation operation of the 150 vehicles that were present.

"If you're not into street racing, why would you need that?" Riverside Police Traffic Sergeant Skip Showalter asked an enthusiast during a similar crackdown last year. "Why would you want more power going to your car?"

Police issued a total of forty-eight tickets for "engine modifications" with police accusing the owners of the parked vehicles of being street racers. Another fifty tickets were issued for paperwork violations, dark window tinting and lack of a front license plate. The most revenue, however, will be generated from the fees imposed on twenty vehicles that were confiscated. Despite labeling the parking lot raid as taking place at a "street racing venue," Riverside Police offered no evidence that any street racing actually took place.

Across the state, gas tax funds are regularly used to fund similar crackdowns that generate big revenue. In 2004, the California Highway Patrol issued a total of 101,553 "modified car" citations worth $10.5 million according to CHP data obtained by TheNewspaper.

In 2005, the California Office of Traffic Safety handed Riverside Police $400,000 in state and federal gas tax revenue for the "establishment of a regional task force to conduct enforcement operations targeting street racing, modified vehicles and speed contests," according to the Riverside Police Department's June 2007 Chief's Report. The department received another $503,268 grant for selective enforcement efforts in 2008. The other agencies that participated in the raid include the California Highway Patrol, Riverside County Sheriff's Department, and police from Baldwin Park, Fontana, Irwindale, Moreno Valley, Ontario and Mount San Jacinto Community College.




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