TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Video taken over the weekend showed a wild ‘street takeover’ taking place in the popular Water Street area of Tampa.
A driver can be seen drifting and doing donuts over and over as a crowd gathers dangerously close.
Police said it’s a social media trend called a “street takeover” that’s dangerous and illegal and happening more often in Tampa.
The latest incident happened at the intersection of Water Street and Cumberland Avenue on Saturday night.
“A lot of people had masks on, which was a little unsettling, but yeah, they had like laser pointers and people were getting really close to the cars,” said Matt Heller, who lives nearby. “I’ve seen this stuff on the Internet before, but I never expected it to be happening on water Street in downtown Tampa. I was upstairs in my house and I heard a little bit of commotion downstairs and I looked out my window and saw smoke coming from this intersection, and like a lot of noise, so I ran downstairs to see what was going on.”
Heller took video of the chaotic scene from a distance.
“I heard my mom’s voice, saying unsafe and danger, but it was wild, it was like just like the movies but like happening right here,” he said. “It looked kind of reckless. I’m surprised, I’m glad no one got hit, but it was like crazy looking at the time.”
“This is enraging,” said Master Patrol Officer Roy Paz, who works in the Tampa Police Traffic Unit.
Paz said TPD is investigating the incident.
“This is so dangerous,” he said. “It’s not something that innocent. This is something that could kill people and it has killed people.”
Local law enforcement has a task force targeting these drivers and, just a few months ago, released a video of another street takeover that was busted during a special operation that resulted in 15 arrests.
Officers said these takeovers are becoming more popular and more brazen.
“It’s being cracked down on, not just here in Hillsborough County, and the City of Tampa, but all in the Bay Area and all throughout the country. This has become a menace to society,” Paz said.
He said arrests often happen after the incident takes place.
“It’s an organized effort to come in as quick as they can, and do as much chaos as they can, in a short amount of time and get out of there,” he said.
Charges range from unlawful racing for spectators to unlawful racing for drivers, which can carry a sentence of up to a year in jail, fines, and license suspension.
“If a spectator is out there and they’re videotaping this, and putting it on social media, they’re part of the problem, and the law is made to prevent stuff like that from happening,” Paz said.