AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Austin Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety continue to investigate a July “street takeover” event that landed three people in the hospital, KXAN has learned more about the scope of these investigations across the state.

In February, DPS – in conjunction with several local agencies – launched the Street Takeover Task Force, following a takeover event that resulted in dozens of criminal charges.

On the weekend of Feb. 18, cars doing donuts and driving recklessly blocked off the intersection of South Lamar Boulevard and Barton Springs Road.

“I was like what is going on?” said Joe Reese, the operations director of Green Mesquite BBQ on Barton Springs Road.

Austin Police said it was investigating several street takeover incidents from the night of Feb. 18, 2023. (Screenshot from video courtesy of S. Joseph)
Austin Police said it was investigating several street takeover incidents from the night of Feb. 18, 2023. (Screenshot from video courtesy of S. Joseph)

Months later, he still has concerns.

“Are they going to be able to stop it next time? Is there going to be a next time,” he said.

The latest similar event occurred on July 29.

That night, troopers assisted APD with a call around 9:30 p.m. for about 100 vehicles in the parking lot of the Target at 8610 Research Blvd. APD officers also responded to multiple locations across the city for calls about the takeovers, including the intersection of Barton Springs Road & South Lamar Boulevard, the 9900 block of S. Interstate 35 Frontage Road and the 400 block of Center Ridge Drive.

Police arrested two teenagers involved.

Below is a breakdown from DPS of law enforcement activity related to the Street Takeover Task Force.

  • 52 total arrests
  • 564 traffic stops (not directed, “routine”)
  • 26 traffic stops (directed, assisted by special agents)
  • 597 traffic warnings
  • 394 traffic citations
  • 16 vehicle searches
  • 10 vehicle pursuits
  • 18 felony arrests
  • 40 misdemeanor arrests
  • 1 stolen vehicle recovered

Social media notes street takeover ‘not successful’ due to law enforcement presence

On May 19, special agents with the DPS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) got intel on a plan for a street takeover, according to DPS, so DPS and APD made a plan to prevent it from happening.

Law enforcement found the event organizer handing out tickets to about 40 cars at the north Austin location.

“APD Officers conducted traffic stops on two vehicles including the event organizer and recovered small amounts of marijuana and those individuals were cited and released. At this time, the event was disrupted, and attempts were made to move locations,” a DPS spokesperson said in a statement.

DPS helicopters then found found two cars doing donuts nearby and arrested one of the drivers for reckless driving – as well as deadly conduct because the activity took “place dangerously close to a child.”

That was the extent of the event, according to DPS and “Social media following the event indicated that the street takeover was not successful due to law enforcement presence.”

Impact of laws aimed at curbing street takeover events

In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed two bills into law related to street takeovers.

One, House Bill 2899, is in effect already. It allows law enforcement to immediately impound vehicles involved in street takeovers or illegal street racing events. Previously, vehicles could only be impounded “if there was property damage or someone suffered bodily injury,” per the Office of the Texas Governor.”

APD said the department has so far impounded six vehicles as a result of this.

KXAN is waiting for clarification on the steps a driver would need to take to retrieve their car from impound upon facing these charges. Check back for updates.