AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 100 officers launched a sting operation Saturday in a parking lot at the corner of Wells Branch Parkway and MoPac Expressway, targeting illegal street racing.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office said Monday it has received many complaints from neighbors over the past several months who are fed up with the car enthusiasts who gather on weekends, filling the parking lot with cars and spectators.
Deputies say drivers use the lot at The Shops at Wells Branch for “burnouts” as pedestrians stand dangerously close. The drivers then take to the streets to race each other.
“It sounds like you’re at Circuit of The Americas,” said Jonathan Stilley, who lives nearby. “It goes about from about 11 p.m. to 12:30, 1 o’clock in the morning every Friday and Saturday night.”
Stilley says he and his neighbors have called 911 and 311 a number of times to complain about the noise. Stilley also says he found several YouTube videos showing the group fighting and even crashing into walls.
“When you see the cars racing and crashing into the walls, and the fights that go on and all that kind of stuff, as just a regular citizen, I look at this now and go, there is no way with my kids that I can drive on MoPac, at 9:30 or 10 at night on a Friday or Saturday and go up that road without fear of some crazy guys racing,” Stilley said.
In YouTube videos of the races, TCSO says drivers bragged about law enforcement not being able to touch them. In a meeting with deputies, the landowners said the group was not permitted to gather on their property anymore.
A task force made up of Austin police, DPS troopers, Pflugerville police, Round Rock police and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office then made their move.
Officers cleared the parking lot and arrested 15 on charges of reckless driving. They also issued 25 citations for traffic violations.
Deputies say they will continue to enforce the law if the group tries to gather in the parking lot again or moves to a different location.
“I think it’s great that they’re there,” Stilley said. “I do hope that they consistently go out there and don’t space it out three, four, five months at a time because it just allows that problem to build back up again.”
TCSO said in a statement, “As long as this group chooses to operate without permits and perform illegal activities, local law enforcement agencies will work to protect drivers and pedestrians as well as ensure that local communities not have their quality of life compromised by the noise and reckless behavior of a few.”