Stockton, CA - The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office has announced a new strategy to combat illegal street racing and sideshows in the county called the San Joaquin County Sideshow Taskforce. The sheriff’s office said it would use officers to infiltrate local groups planning the events and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to shut them down.
The new tactic was put to the test last Friday night Feb 2nd on Groundhog Day, when deputies learned about a takeover planned for the intersection of Country Club Boulevard and Pershing Avenue in Stockton. Deputies closed the intersection around 11:30 p.m. and contained the crowd of over 150 people and 88 vehicles involved in the sideshow activity.
The sheriff’s office said it seized and impounded nearly 90 cars, some of which contained drugs and illegal firearms.
According to the local news stations, three people were arrested for resisting arrest and fleeing, and one person was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after hitting a police car while trying to escape. The rest of the attendees were detained, identified, processed, and released.
Sheriff Patrick Withrow said the crackdown was a success and warned the sideshow participants that their cars could be destroyed as a public nuisance. He also said that the sheriff’s office will continue to use this approach to prevent future street takeovers.
“We’re not going to tolerate this kind of behavior in our county,” Withrow said. "We’re going to do everything we can to keep our streets safe and our citizens protected."
Owners of the cars that were impounded are claiming "victim" stating they are frustrated and want their vehicles back. The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said the cars are being searched for evidence and may be subject to destruction orders if deemed dangerous by the courts.
Some of the owners have been calling the sheriff’s office and the towing company to inquire about the status of their cars, but they have been met with vague answers and no clear timeline. One of the owners, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was told he would have to wait at least 30 days before he could even see his car.
“I don’t know what they’re doing with my car. They won’t let me talk to anyone who knows anything. They just keep saying it’s part of an investigation,” he said. “I need my car to go to work and school. How am I supposed to survive without it?”
The owner said he was not involved in the sideshow, but was just passing by the intersection of Country Club Boulevard and Pershing Avenue when the deputies closed it off and detained everyone in the area. He said he was not arrested or charged with anything, but his car was still taken away.
Another owner, who also requested anonymity, said he was part of the sideshow, but he did not think it was fair that his car could be destroyed. He said he spent thousands of dollars on customizing his car and he did not want to lose it.
“It’s my car, I paid for it. They have no right to take it away from me,” he said. “It’s not like I killed anyone or robbed a bank. I was just having some fun with my friends.”
Those looking for an answer about their impounded vehicles received an answer when the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Office posted on their Instagram @sjsheriff that "The vehicles impounded during our sideshow operation on Friday, February 2, 2024, are being treated as instruments of a crime pursuant to Vehicle Code 22655.5 and other applicable rules of evidence. They will be securely held at our facility indefinitely until they are processed and the District Attorney advises they are no longer needed for prosecution. Additionally, we will be looking into the merits of seeking a destruction order for any vehicle deemed to be a public menace."
The "Indefinitely" statement can be a costly one for these sideshowers since the sheriff’s office said it will charge a $155 fee (money order or certified check only) for processing the return of the cars, in addition to the towing and storage fees that could amount to hundreds of dollars per day!
During a ABC10 Interview the Sheriff concluded "If you don’t wanna be held accountable if you don’t wanna lose your vehicle if you don’t want to go through all the cost of defending yourself in court, then don’t attend the side shows."
Let us know below on what you think about these Side Shows and what this Sheriff did.