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Long IslandCrime

12 people arrested in street-racing sting, Suffolk officials say

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced at a press conference on Friday the arrests of a dozen people connected to nine street races last month in East Farmingdale and Deer Park. Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware

A dozen Long Islanders were arrested last month and 10 high-end vehicles were seized by Suffolk police during an undercover sting operation targeting "Fast and Furious" style racing through the streets of Deer Park and East Farmingdale, authorities announced Friday.

The drivers, officials said, took advantage of largely empty industrial roadways — vacated in part because of the coronavirus pandemic — to race souped-up sports cars at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

" 'Fast and Furious' style street racing with these vehicles belongs in Hollywood movies, not on the highways and the roadways of Suffolk," County Executive Steve Bellone said at a news conference in Yaphank with four seized vehicles, including a Ford Mustang, a Toyota Supra and a Nissan Z.

The suspects range in age from 19 to 29 and were charged with a host of misdemeanor offenses, including illegal speed contest, reckless driving and multiple traffic violations.

The men, who are linked to nine street races in November, were issued desk appearance tickets and will be arraigned at a later date.

The crackdown is the second in as many months in Suffolk.

In early October, police issued 27 summonses after drivers were caught preparing to drag race along the Long Island Expressway near Holtsville. The gathering, which attracted more than 200 vehicles, was broken up before the races could begin.

In total, more than 50 drag-racing summonses have been issued during the past few months, officials said.

Last month, First Precinct Crime Section officers, responding to numerous community complaints, conducted an undercover drag-racing investigation at multiple locations in western Suffolk County.

On Nov. 10, roughly 75 vehicles lined East Industry Court in Deer Park for a race organized on social media, authorities said. Two men, one from Islip and the other from Central Islip, were arrested at the scene.

Five days later, authorities broke up a Sunday afternoon drag race on Allen Boulevard in East Farmingdale attended by 100 drivers or spectators. A Farmingdale man was arrested at the scene while dozens of other vehicles scattered after police arrived.

Authorities tracked down and arrested nine other drivers. They are from Ronkonkoma, Bethpage, Huntington, Kings Park, Middle Island, Central Islip, Roosevelt, Brentwood and East Islip.

A total of 10 vehicles, which were modified to increase speed, were impounded by police and will be subject to a judicial hearing. Police are still searching for two other vehicles and the investigation is continuing.

"Street racing is a serious offense that can have deadly consequences," said Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. "It is a true public safety hazard and endangers every single person on our roadways, including these drivers."

The races, Hart said, took place in industrial corridors where businesses operate round-the-clock and shift workers are often exiting from nearby locations. There were no injuries reported.

The drivers raced down a quarter-mile stretch of roadway, with line markers on the ground to indicate a start and stop location, said Sgt. Kenneth McHugh. While the streets were lined with spectators, the road is not blocked off to other drivers, he said.

"It's pretty reckless," McHugh said. "It's just like the movies."

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