Car enthusiasts react to crackdown on parking lot takeovers
Car fanatic Mark Molina organizes car shows and meetups around the Rio Grande Valley.
Molina says his favorite part is seeing how the meetups bring people together through a shared interest.
“It's all about just gathering in one spot and just enjoying our hobby,” Molina said.
Molina's life-long love of cars started as a kid when his mechanic father taught him to respect cars.
It's why takeovers, or "side shows" as he calls them, are upsetting.
“Those shows unfortunately are not really about gathering, it's more about showing off,” Molina said. “Local venues, local stores, it has caused a little bit of problems trying to get them to have a little bit of confidence in letting us have a gathering."
One of those "side shows" happened Thursday night in Weslaco. It ended in a sting operation where 14 people were arrested.
These takeovers aren't only happening in Weslaco, it's an issue across the Valley.
Mission assistant police Chief Ted Rodriguez says he sees it in his city weekly, adding that his department is taking measures to combat these takeovers.
The measures include arresting and citing those involved, and taking their property.
“We can seize those vehicles, that is an option that we as law enforcement have,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez says it's mostly younger people involved in these takeovers.
“You don't want to start your adult life with a criminal history,” Rodriguez said. “You don't want to be involved in a tragic situation where your actions caused somebody to have an injury or death."
Molina hopes others will hear that message, and think about the consequences.
“[Side shows] causes situations where law enforcement starts taking note, and they start coming after everybody,” Molina said. “If we all keep it calm and professional, it gives us all the opportunity to be able to enjoy our hobby."
Some of the charges facing those arrested in a parking lot takeover include reckless driving, racing on a public highway or roadway and deadly conduct.