A coordinated effort between multiple law enforcement agencies Friday night resulted in the dismantling of an unsanctioned quasi car show setting up in a parking lot of a Turlock grocer, and saw dozens cited for multiple infractions.
For quite some time the parking lot in front of the Safeway store at 3051 Countryside Drive had been used a gathering spot late at night. On any given Friday night the parking lot could be filled with hundreds of individuals. The majority of those in attendance were teenagers and in their 20s and the focus was on the cars, especially those that were fast and tricked out.
Recently, the gathering had taken a turn from car enthusiasts to a more nefarious crowd. Dozens of complaints had been received by the Turlock Police Department regarding illegal and dangerous behavior. Over the weeks, the behavior degraded to include reckless driving in the parking lot, illegal narcotics use, alcohol consumption, intimidation of other customers, battery, and illegal street racing, according to the police department.
“This was not the case of one upset person,” said Turlock Traffic Unit Supervisor Sgt. Neil Cervenka. “I have personally observed the behavior in and around the parking lot and the racing on Highway 99 endangering many lives.”
On Friday, the Turlock Police Department was joined by the Modesto, Ceres, Patterson and Newman police departments and the California Highway Patrol for an operation of the Countywide Integrated Traffic Enforcement team. Officers in plain clothes witnessed and recorded much of the illegal and dangerous behaviors listed on a prior date.
During the three-hour operation, approximately 60 citations were issued for illegally modified vehicles. Seven were arrested for driving while suspended or unlicensed and a juvenile was arrested for driving under the influence and an outstanding warrant.
It is believed many of these violators were part of a group that was gathering in Modesto, but a similar C.I.T.E. operation disrupted them. Cervenka said the C.I.T.E. team would continue to disrupt any similar groups that pop up in an effort to keep the communities safe.