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By Greg Risling
ASSOCIATED PRESS

1:27 p.m. June 20, 2007

RIALTO – Charles Hoang winced when the whoosh went out of the tires. Daniel Maldonado took pictures with a digital camera as glass exploded and rained down to the ground.
The two teens didn't know each other but they shared a common grief standing near each other under the sweltering sun Wednesday. They both watched helplessly as the cars they had so meticulously souped up and tricked out were crushed and turned into metal pancakes as part of a crackdown on illegal street racing in Southern California.

“That's my heart, my dream,” said a visibly upset Hoang, 18, of Chino, who was surrounded by friends as his 1998 Acura Integra was put into a compactor. “That's my girlfriend, the love of my life. The cops can crush my car, but they can't crush my memories.”

Six vehicles were destroyed at an auto graveyard as local law enforcement ramped up enforcement against illegal street racing, which is responsible for or suspected in 13 deaths in Southern California since March.

The thrill-seeking, adrenaline-pumping activity is rampant in Riverside and San Bernardino counties east of Los Angeles where rows of tract homes line wide streets ideal for racing. Nearly 1,000 people have been arrested for investigation of street racing activities over the past two years in San Bernardino County alone. That includes spectators as well as drivers.

Although police said they have managed to reduce illegal racing and related fatal collisions, they are well aware the underground hobby still thrives.

“We are making a dent,” said Ontario police Cpl. Jeff Higbee. “But it's summertime and ... we expect to see more activity.”

Hoang said he was caught late last year racing his prized car on which he spent at least $10,000 to get into top shape. The 350-horsepower engine topped out at 160 mph, Hoang said, swearing it could beat a Corvette or even a Ferrari.

When police popped open the hood, Hoang said, they found a stolen transmission. Hoang flashed a receipt for the transmission he bought from his father who runs an auto shop and doubted the item was hot.

“Everything on that car was practically brand new,” Hoang said as he watched his car get moved to auto death row. “They should take out the stuff that matters, auction it off, and give the money to charity.”

Because racers put heavy stress on their vehicles, they often burn out or blow up parts. Higbee said the need for the expensive parts has created a “theft mill” where additional cars – usually Hondas or Acuras – are stolen and stripped of the necessary replacements.

Most of the cars police examine are illegally modified. Sergio Zavala, 18, was pulled over in his 1993 yellow Honda Civic for a broken tail light in December. He had purchased a B-20 Vtech engine with a double-overhead cam a couple months before, and after a police investigation, was told it was stolen.

Zavala, who admits he's been involved in street racing, estimates he and his mother spent about $10,000 to make improvements to his car.

After watching his Civic demolished, Zavala is left without a car as he plans to attend a fire academy in the fall.

“It's heartbreaking to see this,” said Zavala, who graduated from high school last year. “This is where all my time and money went.”

Maldonado also said he put plenty of time and effort working on his 1992 black Honda Civic. He was stopped in November by police in what Higbee described as an area where racers gather.

The 18-year-old mechanic said a vehicle identification sticker apparently fell off and without it, police suspected some of the parts were stolen. Maldonado stood several feet away from his car as it was pounded into a heap of metal.

Maldonado said he has taken the advice of police – by racing legally on one of several race courses around Southern California. For the money spent in fines and other penalties – on average about $5,000 for illegally modified cars – Higbee said street racers could compete about 250 times a year at a legitimate track.

“If you have to race, take it to a legal venue,” Higbee said. “But as long as they keep racing illegally, we keep crushing their cars.”

All three men who saw their vehicles destroyed accused the police of auto profiling. They said they target only Hondas and Acuras, hoping to find something. Maldonado said he's driven a 1989 Toyota Supra but never been stopped.

They also believe illegal street racing will continue to prosper across the region.

“It will never go away,” Maldonado said. “If it's in your heart, you will continue to do it until you can't anymore.”
 

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I don't see the need to crush the cars. If they're doing something illegal, and you cite them and they keep doing it, send them to jail. But why crush the cars?
 

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itsabullitt said:
I don't see the need to crush the cars. If they're doing something illegal, and you cite them and they keep doing it, send them to jail. But why crush the cars?
Because that would seem to hurt worse than jail...
 

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I agree it would hurt worse than jail time, but they've got to get a new car then, and probably do the same with it. I just don't see the need. they're crushing good usable parts just to set an example. I agree street racing needs to be cracked down upon, but this is a little extreme.
 

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Because in the eyes of the laws, these cars are built for one thing, and that's street racing. So why would they sell these cars back to Joe Public and see the same cars back out on the street racing? Tearing them down for parts will end with the same results.

Crushing them sends a strong message and ensures they are off the streets.
 

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I would assume that if a car that has many thousands of dollars in it for modifications is destroyed, it also leaves the people financially less able to do it again.

Someone once said to me "people don't change when they see the light, only when they feel the heat."

The heat is the loss of the money and time spent.

Causing damage to people and property (or increasing the likelihood of it happening) is extreme also.
 

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If I remember correctly they are crushed because it is a law. I say destroy the cars and save some lives. I do watch two local LA news programs almost every day. There are many people killed street racing. Street racing is against the law, and I fought the law and the law won comes to mind.
 

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TOYS-R-ME! said:
Because in the eyes of the laws, these cars are built for one thing, and that's street racing. So why would they sell these cars back to Joe Public and see the same cars back out on the street racing? Tearing them down for parts will end with the same results.

Crushing them sends a strong message and ensures they are off the streets.
Something akin to arresting a 7/11 robber. Confiscating his gun, then reselling it to someone in an auction (probably one of his gangsta buddies) to only have him buy it back while he's on probation...:shock:
 

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Let's hope that the car-to-the-crusher penalty causes people to think twice about spending all their time and money on creating an object which will put themselves and others in danger.

I say Kudos to the police district doing this, and please crush my car too if I ever become stupid enough to drive outside reasonable limits.
 

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13 people killed this year in that part of the Cal. due to street racing.... Wow thats out of control....

I would hate to have my car crushed so it sends messge don't even think about it
 

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HisPony said:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/s...edhotrods.html

By Greg Risling
ASSOCIATED PRESS

1:27 p.m. June 20, 2007

RIALTO – Charles Hoang winced when the whoosh went out of the tires. Daniel Maldonado took pictures with a digital camera as glass exploded and rained down to the ground.
The two teens didn't know each other but they shared a common grief standing near each other under the sweltering sun Wednesday. They both watched helplessly as the cars they had so meticulously souped up and tricked out were crushed and turned into metal pancakes as part of a crackdown on illegal street racing in Southern California.

...

They also believe illegal street racing will continue to prosper across the region.

“It will never go away,” Maldonado said. “If it's in your heart, you will continue to do it until you can't anymore.”
That last comment made above indicates to me why crushing might have some deterrence effect.
 
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