Police have a well-known affinity for doughnuts—but not when it comes to car clubs and “takeovers.”
Over the last month, Glendale police officers arrested dozens of car-club members for a variety of alleged illegal activities.
It should be noted these are not the type of car clubs that restore and display classic autos from decades past. The car clubs the police are targeting allegedly close off intersections late at night for impromptu shows.
While the takeover crews often record their actions to post on social media, they also become stars of unintended footage: Glendale’s high-tech Real-Time Crime Center collects video from traffic cameras around the city, which they use to quickly break up the stunts and arrest participants.
Sgt. Patrick Valenzuela Jr., the Glendale Police Traffic Unit night-time supervisor, explained what a “takeover” means.
“It’s pre-planned, where they’ll go to an intersection with 100 to 200 cars. They block all four ways of the intersection and then cars go in the middle and do burnouts and doughnuts,” he said.
The thrill is not just in the moment but also creating footage for social media sites of burnouts and “drifting” (another name for spinning circles).
“They’ll have someone doing video with a camera or their cell phones,” Valenzuela said.
Though the takeovers usually happen late at night, with little traffic, getting caught in one can range from an annoyance to dangerous.
“They have a saying: ‘Get back or get hit.’ They are not concerned if they hit spectators or other cars when they’re spinning out of control,” Valenzuela said.
“It’s a safety hazard for everyone on the roadway. There’ve been incidents where people have been hit by people doing doughnuts.”
Other parts of the West Valley have been stages for street racing, some of which have had deadly consequences.
Sen. Paul Boyer, a Glendale resident who represents District 20, introduced legislation for stiffer penalties on racers and the creation of the Drag Racing Prevention Enforcement Fund to provide additional resources to local law enforcement agencies.
Boyer said Maryvale, just south of Glendale, has been a hotbed for street racers.
In Glendale, “We see less of the street racing. The drifting and burnouts, that’s a larger activity,” Valenzuela said.
He said the intersection takeover crews are “from other parts of the Valley. It’s not just a Glendale thing; they go to different parts of the Valley.”
In Glendale, according to Valenzuela, the car clubs gravitate to the Westgate Entertainment District and “some areas around 51st Avenue corridor.”
Glendale police officers used traffic camera footage to track and arrest some of the alleged takeover artists.
Excerpts from a few recent arrest reports:
• “On July 26 at 11:36 p.m. (the suspect) was observed driving a 2020 Maroon Dodge Charger and involved in an intersection takeover at 9500 W. Bethany Home Road. (The suspect) drifted his vehicle several times around the intersection. The vehicle plate and driver were caught on camera with an officer observing the incident as it happened. As officers moved in to break up the takeover, (the suspect) left westbound in his vehicle toward the Loop 101. Upon Conducting further follow up … (the suspect) was located with the vehicle on July 31 at about 7:30 p.m. He ultimately got into the vehicle and fled the house westbound towards North 51st Avenue. As officers followed and tried to catch up to him, he sped off, later claiming he never saw officers. He turned eastbound on W. Northern Avenue from North 51st Avenue and as officers continued to try to catch up he pulled into a driveway at (the end) which was a dead end, so he parked the vehicle quickly and got out of the driver’s seat. He then complied with officers commands and was taken into custody.”
• “On July 26 at about 11:36 p.m. at 9500 W. Bethany Home Road, the (suspect) was involved with a car club which arrived to the area and did an intersection takeover. There were 50 to 75 vehicles arrived to the area and blocked off the entire roadway so that vehicles could do burnouts within the intersection. The defendant was driving a black Ford Mustang and he was caught on camera going into the intersection and doing several burnouts and doughnuts. … The defendant was endangering the lives of the people standing around the intersection as he could have easily lost control and ran into the crowds of people and vehicles. … Once police officers began to move into the area the defendant fled with his vehicle leaving eastbound on West Bethany Home Road and was stopped at about 9200 W. Bethany Home Road. it was confirmed the vehicle and plate matched that of the black Ford.”
• “On Aug. 2, Glendale Police officers were working a street racing detail to catch or deter illegal street racing activities. … At approximately midnight, Officer Clubb was utilizing the cameras in the Real-Time Crime Center when he observed a black sedan, later positively identified as a black Toyota Camry … driving around the intersection area of 95th Avenue and Montebello Avenue. This intersection is an area that has been heavily used by illegal street racing crews. … Officer Clubb observed the vehicle begin to do burnouts and doughnuts in the intersection, with the front seat passenger hanging out of the window and participating in the street racing and reckless driving activity by recording the activity on his cell phone. … (The suspect in the passenger seat) said that he and his friend watch a lot of street racing videos and follow street racers on social media. He said his friend wanted to try doing some doughnuts, and it was their first time doing anything like this.”
• “Defendant was seen on camera involved in street racing. The defendant was doing burnouts and spinning in circles in the middle of the intersection at 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way in the city of Glendale. The defendant was stopped after officers caught up with him after fleeing this intersection that had several spectators and vehicles blocking the intersection for the defendant while he was doing his burnouts. After the defendant was stopped he made the spontaneous statement to police that he was watching the burnouts happen. When he was told that the police department watched the whole thing on camera and that it was recorded he admitted to being involved without questions. … During an inventory search a backpack was found in the trunk of his vehicle that he was the sole occupant of. The backpack contained a large amount of marijuana. The defendant was also in possession of a loaded Glock 9mm handgun with an extended magazine holding 15 rounds.”
Valenzuela said it is common for a takeover arrest to lead to other charges.
“There’s definitely some criminal history with some of the people we’re contacting,” he said.
His advice to anyone who witnesses an intersection takeover: “Pull off safely to the side of the road. Don’t get involved in it, and call 911.”
The dozens of arrests Glendale police officers have made of takeover artists over the last month are making an impact, according to Valenzuela.
“We’ve seen a decrease the last couple of weekends,” he said. “Our enforcement efforts are leading them to think twice about coming into Glendale.”