The Wenatchee Police Department is cracking down on street racing and associated activities within the city limits.

Street racing is considered a more serious offense than cruising since it involves vehicles traveling at excessive speeds and driving recklessly on city streets.

Police Sgt. Erik Vasquez says those who participate in street racing are rarely aware of its potential consequences.

"Unfortunately, they don't take into the consideration the other drivers that are on the roadway or any pedestrians that could be in the roadway or on the sidewalks. Those city blocks might seem like they're pretty long but when you're going sixty or seventy miles an hour down the roadway, those intersections come up on you really fast and the last thing we want is for one of their vehicles to go through an intersection and hit another car or a person."

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Police say the chosen hub for those who street race in Wenatchee is the parking lot at 1300 North Miller Street adjacent to JCPenney, Target and several other businesses.

It's here where Vasquez says as many as 200 people will congregate for street racing and improvised vehicle displays during weekends, many of whom are now coming from outside the Wenatchee Valley and creating a wealth of problems.

"They go there to cause fights and race their cars. They go there to spin their tires and do donuts. They leave garbage all over the place and are drinking alcohol there, including some who are underage. It's just not a place where anyone needs to be on a Friday or Saturday night if they don't want to be in trouble."

Wenatchee Police have also issued numerous citations and made dozens of arrests over the past year for violations and crimes related to drugs and weapons at the Miller Street racing assemblies.

Vasquez says it's not uncommon for there to be as many as 60 to 70 vehicles at the lot or racing on nearby streets on weekends.

Only seven or eight Wenatchee Police Department officers are typically on duty during the street racing gatherings, although their enforcement efforts are supported by deputies from the Chelan County Sheriff's Office, as well as troopers with the Washington State Patrol.

Wenatchee officer Rheid Cline says the street racing issue began several years ago during the pandemic when many bars, restaurants, and other gathering places were closed or required to offer seating to a limited number of patrons.

The penalties for those who are caught street racing are stiff and new changes to Washington State law now allow law enforcement a greater range of options for dealing with the problem.

An initial contact with a street racer can result in the impounding of their vehicle, while a second contact gives police the option to pursue the outright forfeiture of the racer's precious ride.

Wenatchee Police say they are currently focused primarily on educating street racers and those who are trespassing and loitering at the Miller Street parking lot about the laws and the potential consequences of their activities.

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Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela

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