TAMPA, Fla. — Several people face charges in connection with illegal street racing after the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says it made more than 150 traffic stops over the weekend during Operation Takeback.
Over the course of nine hours, Hillsborough deputies wrote 60 citations, issued 114 warnings and made nine arrests.
“When you look at the donuts that the guys are spinning around, a lot of times we will see dozens and dozens of people on a circle around these vehicles, and it doesn’t take long for one of those vehicles to lose control and then crash into some of those people and injure them pretty badly, if not kill them,” HCSO Spokesperson Marco Villarreal said.
The sheriff’s office says the purpose of Operation Takeback, as in taking back the streets, is to deter people from participating in or even attending the so-called meet-up events.
Most of them, deputies say, occur at industrial sites across the county.
“If you are a part of this, as someone who is watching or taking part, you can get in trouble for this as well,” Villarreal said.
In addition to the arrests, deputies say they found guns, a bulletproof vest, and a large amount of ammunition.
Seven vehicles were impounded. Five of them were placed on a mandatory 30-day hold to keep them off the street at the owner’s expense.
"A lot of these people, their car is their baby,” Villarreal said. “So, 30 days where they are not going to have that, they’re gonna be paying a lot of money.
"After a while, it’s just gonna cost too much money to be out here racing illegally on our roads.”
In October 2022, Florida enacted a new law that lets police charge people based on street racing and other stunts posted on social media. Just organizing a meet-up for street racing purposes is enough to get arrested.
The sheriff’s office said that they hope Operation Takeback also sends a message to people from out of town.
“We are going to find you," Villarreal said. "We’re going to arrest you. We are going to cite you. We are not giving up until we know that this problem has been taken care of and squashed."
This is the second crackdown on street racing in as many weeks in the Tampa Bay area.
A week earlier, Tampa police said they arrested 14 people in a street racing operation that involved people shutting down streets to perform vehicle stunts in front of spectators.