Street takeovers, where dozens of vehicles converge on an intersection or parking lot and then block it, set off fireworks and cheer as a vehicle “drifts” – doing doughnuts in common parlance – inside the ring, made their way to the suburbs on March 24, causing a stir in a number of towns, including Brookfield.
The highly planned, tightly coordinated takeovers, last just a few minutes from start to finish, but they generate anxiety among the general public, who feel powerless to control it.
Mainly an issue in the city of Chicago the past couple of years, the practice now has migrated into the ’burbs, perhaps in response to an ordinance passed by the Chicago City Council last summer allowing police to impound cars involved in drifting or street racing and to fine their owners up to $10,000.
An illegal street takeover involving about 100 vehicles in the Brighton Park neighborhood in Chicago last October turned deadly when five people were shot, three fatally.
No one was hurt during the street takeover of the intersection at 31st Street and Maple Avenue on March 24 just before 9 p.m., video of which was posted to Facebook, showing a single vehicle “drifting” inside a ring of cars and spectators.
“From the time of the initial setup until they were gone was less than five minutes,” said Brookfield Deputy Police Chief Terry Schreiber, who managed the department’s response that night.
Brookfield police were on scene in two minutes, Schreiber said, by which time the takeover was over and vehicles were dispersing. No one was arrested at the time. Police are reviewing surveillance camera video to see whether any vehicle owners can be identified and cited after the fact.
“Due to the recklessness they’re engaged in, trying to effect any stop can add to already reckless behavior,” Schreiber said. “We’re handling it through the investigative process afterward.”
Schreiber said the takeovers begin when an advance group of vehicles arrives and parks in the area and their occupants walk to the intersection. Once enough people gather, a second group of vehicles arrives and blocks the intersection while a few cars take turns “drifting” inside the ring.
Schreiber said sometimes the advance group will appear to prepare for a takeover in one area to divert attention from the actual takeover location.
“We did have an idea that there was a group out there [driving through the suburbs],” Schreiber said. “We didn’t know they were going to be coming to town.”
There’s no firm count regarding how many vehicles were involved in the various street takeovers that played out on March 24 and 25, but estimates ranged from 50 to 300. Intersection takeovers were also reported in Cicero, Berwyn, Chicago and Melrose Park.
Police in Riverside, North Riverside, LaGrange and McCook also reported vehicles traveling in large numbers through their towns along main streets such as Harlem Avenue and First Avenue.
“They traveled through LaGrange, but they didn’t take over any intersections,” said LaGrange Police Chief Robert Wardlaw. “We don’t have exact numbers, but our officers reported a lot of vehicles. They couldn’t keep count.”
Suburban police were preparing for possible takeovers, starting around 7:35 p.m. on March 24, when they initiated an Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) callout for police in greater northeast Illinois to respond to the area for “crowd control for street racing.”
“We assisted several of our neighboring PDs,” said Riverside Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley. “It was a constant issue on Friday and Saturday night.”
While there was no takeover in North Riverside last weekend, police there did arrest the driver of a vehicle that had apparently been part of a pack northbound on First Avenue at about 10:30 p.m.
An orange Dodge Charger driven by a 24-year-old Waukegan man reportedly was seen racing with a black Ford Mustang eastbound on Cermak Road and then northbound on Desplaines Avenue. After encountering a North Riverside police squad car near Roosevelt Road, the vehicles reportedly did U-turns and sped south at speeds greater than 60 mph.
The cars turned west on Country Club Lane, which is a dead end street and police blocked the east end. The Mustang’s driver sped around the squad car and reached Desplaines Avenue by driving on several front lawns, but police stopped the Dodge Charger and arrested the driver.
He was charged with street racing, aggravated speeding, reckless driving and modifying/concealing registration.
According to police, the driver of the Dodge Charger possessed a key fob device that, with the push of a button, dropped a black cloth to cover the rear license plate. The license plates on the Ford Mustang reportedly were stolen, police said.