AURORA, Colo. — Police departments along the Front Range are asking for new tools to battle street racers.
Two years ago, then-Aurora Police Lt. Jad Lanigan told Denver7 that street racing had become epidemic in the metro area.
On Saturday, Aurora Mayor Pro Tem Francoise Bergan said the problem is still escalating.
"I don't know if COVID contributes to people wanting to be out, but certainly it's on the increase," she said.
Racers have become an all-too-familiar sight, especially on weekends, when they're blocking, or weaving in and out of traffic, pumping brakes to slow traffic down, then stepping on the gas.
Street racers have taken over highways and, in some instances, residential streets all over the Denver metro area.
Martha, a restaurant worker from Thornton, reached out to Contact7 out of frustration, saying she frequently sees street racers on her way home from work on Sundays.
"I just want to rush home and I can't because... these street racers are messing with all of us," she said. "They're swerving in and out of cars, and then trying to make you slow down, like it's funny to them."
Martha said she's even seen them racing in the rain.
"That's very scary because... you have to worry about everyone else, not just yourself," she said.
Police say it's hard to keep up with the proliferation of racers, who communicate online.
In Aurora, they reached out to council for help.
"They really have their hands tied in terms of what tools are available for them," Bergan said, adding that tickets and fines don't seem to phase the offenders.
"They pay the fine," she said. "If it goes to court, they're supposed to get 12 points on their license, but that's usually pleaded down."
The Mayor Pro Tem said she's considering proposing an ordinance that would allow police to seize the vehicles of those involved in street racing.
"That might be one deterrent," she said. "We certainly will be very careful in ensuring civil liberties and making sure that there is due diligence and process for anyone that we would seize a vehicle from."
There's a similar effort underway in Colorado Springs, according to Denver7 sister station KOAA. The proposal before the Colorado Springs City Council would add street racing and eluding to the city's "nuisance vehicle" ordinance.
Bergan said it's not just racing that's a problem. She said she gets complaints from business owners whose parking lots are being damaged by drivers burning rubber doing donuts during car meets.
Bergan said safety is the reason she's considering such a proposal.
"We don't want any fatalities," she said.
Street racing is so widespread along the Front Range that Colorado State Patrol is heading up a task force on the issue.
Additionally, law enforcement agencies, investigators, analysts and prosecutors have banded together in an online effort called ReportStreetRacing.com to encourage people who witness such events to report them anonymously.