Too Fast And The Neighbors Are Furious

Citywide problem of street takeovers, racing terrorize Preston Hollow

Almost nightly in Preston Hollow, you can hear it. You can smell it. And if you’re unlucky enough to get caught in it, you can even see it.

Enthusiasts call it a street takeover. Spectators watch as souped-up cars rev their engines and proceed to burnout, spinning in circles in intersections while other cars block entry to other motorists. 

Christine Cervantes and her neighbors are fed up. She said they have been documenting and sharing the incidents with Dallas police in hopes that something can be done to stop the takeovers. 

“I’ve given the police Instagram names and videos that have license plates clearly visible. I’ve been very on top of sending them any information I have,” she said, adding that the activity seems to have increased over the summer.

“It was dangerous, terrifying, pure chaos.”

Jacqueline Brandy

“I would hear the occasional revving of an engine from cars driving by, but nothing like we are experiencing now,” she said.

Dorothy Pullen, who lives in the Cochran Heights neighborhood, said it’s an every weekend occurrence.

“We wake up to the revving engines and the cars without mufflers on Northwest Highway,” she said. “A neighbor said they meet at the Chick-Fil-A parking lot.”

Jacqueline Brady was one of the unlucky who found herself caught at the Royal and Inwood intersection during a takeover on July 4, after hearing fireworks.

“Having chosen to stay in and forego any of our normal fun firework viewing, we realized the fireworks were coming from Strait Lane,” she recalled. “I innocently assumed someone was throwing a great show, and we piled in the car in hopes of getting a glimpse of some fun.”

But as she neared the intersection, she realized it was “total chaos.” 

“Fireworks weren’t clearing the trees — people standing outside their cars. As we approached Inwood, I could see all streets were blocked, and I then had no way to turn around short of jumping the curb – which I did. It was dangerous, terrifying, pure chaos.”

A perusal of several YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook accounts promoting the takeovers provides a glimpse into how they’re organized. A private Instagram account shares locations. Even NextDoor is monitored, apparently, to see the reaction of neighborhoods that are impacted by the racing.

But that’s not to say that there aren’t rules – although they do give a glimpse into why it’s difficult for law enforcement to catch participants.

We reached out to one of the accounts, who initially agreed to answer our questions, but then didn’t engage with us any further after that.

Dallas City Councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates is also concerned and said it’s a citywide problem.

“I understand the frustration of the public and join them being alarmed at the behavior,” she said, adding that although the council amended an ordinance related to street racing, “the action hasn’t appeared to decrease the incidents.”

“I encourage residents to report the activity when they are witnessing it but not to engage with the racers for their own safety,” she said. “I am hopeful DPD will explore best practices and other methods to eliminate the activity.”

Dallas police spokesperson Melinda Gutierrez said that the department’s speed racing task force has “written thousands of citations and made numerous arrests.”

“A person can face fines and/or jail time for participating in street racing,” she said. “It is also now illegal to be a spectator of street racing. Residents can call 911 to report it if it is actively occurring or if it is a known location, it can be reported through 311 or our iWatch Dallas app.”

But the problem isn’t just relegated to Dallas – cities all over the U.S. are reporting increased incidents of street takeovers and street racing.

In Los Angeles, law enforcement officials tired of the nearly daily occurrences, added tow trucks to its repertoire when responding to intersection takeover calls.

“Police say spectators are using their cars to block the street so they can’t actually get to the street racers, so their new strategy is to go after the spectators,” the local Fox affiliate reported. Officers respond with tow trucks, citing and towing spectators watching the illegal show, working their way toward the intersection.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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