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Aurora City Council may consider stiffer penalties for illegal street racing

Police departments across Colorado set up a task force trying to figure out solutions to the problem. But once violators are caught, punishments often aren’t severe.

AURORA, Colo. — Drivers heading southbound on I-225 between Alameda Avenue and Colfax Avenue could still see the tire marks on the pavement Monday, after a group of street racers caused a closure of the highway late Sunday night.

On Sunday, Aurora Police tweeted an estimate of 600 to 800 cars involved with the street racing. But Monday, a spokesman for the department said there was no estimate of how many vehicles were involved with the racing, only that 600 to 800 vehicles were stuck in traffic because of the closure.

“We’re pissed off, man, I’ll tell you,” said Officer Matthew Longshore with Aurora Police. “The community’s frustrated. We’re frustrated.”

He said the department has already committed investigators to find the people involved in organizing Sunday night’s event.

RELATED: Aurora Police: Racing, weapons reported after 600-800 cars block I-225

The group involved Sunday shut down a major stretch of interstate near several hospitals. In other cases around the metro area, street racing groups have damaged private property.

Stephen Shepard, executive director of the Denver Metro Building Owners and Managers Association says property owners have called his office asking what to do with the damage.

Shepard said one owner, in particular, has paid nearly $40,000 at two buildings to fix parking lots, mend gates and hire security to keep street racers out.

It is often difficult for police to catch these illegal street racers.

“By the time we can catch up to them they’re gone,” Longshore said. “If we can catch these people, you’re going to get a summons.”

Police departments across Colorado set up a task force trying to figure out solutions to the growing problem. They’ve created a website where people can submit photos and videos of street racers.

But once violators are caught, punishments often aren’t too severe. Street racers often get a court summons. In severe cases, they can be arrested.

Aurora Police are asking for an additional tool. And the city council may give it to them.

“We’re looking at giving more teeth for police to be able to go after this issue,” said Aurora city councilwoman Francoise Bergan. She is in the process of writing a new ordinance that, if approved by the city council, would allow police to temporarily seize vehicles used in street racing.

“It would be really to temporarily put a hold on the vehicle through and impound lot and assess fees,” Bergan said.

The city council in Colorado Springs will vote on a similar ordinance there this week. Pueblo and Denver already have similar laws.

“We hope that if we can start towing and we can start charging people more money to get their cars out … hopefully, that’s a deterrent,” Longshore said.

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