Motorists slowed to gawk on the L.A. County sheriff’s deputies milling round a tire store in Compton and the big phrases spray-painted in black throughout the entrance of the enterprise: “Pricey prospects attributable to SNITCHES no burnin out,” and in Spanish, “no quema” — no burning.

One of many dozen deputies standing exterior the enterprise on Rosecrans Avenue — some in khaki uniforms, others in plainclothes with bulletproof vests over their sweatshirts and T-shirts – instructed a Occasions reporter on Tuesday they have been helping town with a “routine inspection.”

Requested in regards to the message left on the wall, the deputy mentioned, “I don’t know something about that.”

Bernardo Lopez, who owns the tire store together with his mom, instructed The Occasions he wrote the message himself after studying metropolis officers have been investigating his enterprise on suspicion of promoting tires to avenue racers who’ve taken over intersections to carry out burnouts and different unlawful maneuvers.

Lopez, who says he can not management what prospects do with their tires, mentioned it was out of sheer frustration that he grabbed a can of spray-paint and scrawled throughout the entrance of his personal store a message for avenue racers to remain away.

“We inform the children, ‘Don’t do burnouts right here,’” Lopez’s 60-year-old mom, Natalia, mentioned in Spanish, sitting on a folding chair between tall stacks of used tires on the enterprise named after her grandson. “Go some other place. We don’t need the noise. We make an trustworthy residing.”

The dispute at Jeffrey’s Tires and Rims, which was ordered by town this week to close down for code violations, is the newest flashpoint in authorities’ crackdown on avenue takeovers. The problem has angered many residents and enterprise homeowners in Compton, who observe the perpetrators who block site visitors and carry out harmful stunts additionally vandalize and steal from close by companies.

Final month, a crowd attending a takeover at El Segundo Boulevard and Santa Fe Avenue swarmed Ruben’s Bakery & Mexican Meals, ramming a Kia Soul by way of the entrance door earlier than ransacking the 40-year-old, family-owned enterprise. Sheriff’s deputies arrested the alleged driver of the Kia, a 13-year-old boy. Hours after being launched from custody, the teenager was arrested attempting to rob a 7-Eleven in Carson, authorities mentioned.

Three weeks after Ruben’s Bakery & Mexican Meals was robbed, 4 folks have been shot — none fatally — at a takeover at Alondra Boulevard and Central Avenue. Authorities reported 5 different sideshows that very same evening in Compton and South Los Angeles.

The problem has grow to be so extreme in Compton that the captain of town’s sheriff substation known as it “the mecca of avenue takeovers.”

In an announcement to The Occasions, a spokesperson for town of Compton mentioned, “We guarantee the general public that we’re actively monitoring the state of affairs and exploring all crucial measures to deal with considerations associated to avenue takeovers and unlawful avenue racing inside our group.”

The town declined additional remark, citing an ongoing investigation.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Division didn’t reply to questions from The Occasions about Jeffrey’s Tires.

A regulation enforcement supply who wasn’t approved to talk to the media and requested anonymity mentioned Jeffrey’s Tires was suspected of putting in previous, worn-out tires on avenue racers’ automobiles so that they wouldn’t injury their on a regular basis tires once they did burnouts.

Bernardo and Natalia Lopez denied this. They solely offered used tires that have been in good working order, they mentioned, and once they modified a buyer’s tires, they disposed of the previous ones and didn’t resell them.

The mom and son have owned the store, positioned between a Chevron and the Rose Motel close to Rosecrans and Wilmington avenues, for a few 12 months and a half. Enterprise was good, Bernardo Lopez mentioned, as a result of they offered used tires for $45 apiece, in contrast to “grasping” retailers within the space that cost $60 or extra.

They acknowledged a few of their prospects have been avenue racers. Bernardo Lopez believes town started to analyze his store after seeing its stickers on automobiles at sideshows; he distributes the stickers in alternate for reductions as a advertising technique, he mentioned.

Sure, they used to remain open late — till 3 a.m. — however so do most tire retailers in Compton, Natalia Lopez mentioned, noting some function 24 hours a day.

Natalia Lopez mentioned she and her son shouldn’t be held answerable for what prospects do with the tires they promote. “When folks come to purchase, prospects, now we have to promote to them,” she mentioned. “We are able to’t make assumptions.”

For now, town will not be cracking down on the enterprise for promoting tires to avenue racers however for code violations — working with out a enterprise license and unsafe situations, together with the tires heaped within the driveway, in accordance with a discover from town’s code enforcement division.

When code and hearth inspectors confirmed up on the enterprise on Tuesday, they have been accompanied by so many sheriff’s deputies that Natalia Lopez fainted, in accordance with surveillance footage and paperwork from her hospital admittance for hypertension.

“All of the feelings, the concern — I couldn’t stand it,” she mentioned.

Final week, the Los Angeles Police Division’s avenue racing process power, which works alongside the Sheriff’s Division and the California Freeway Patrol, arrested “one of many largest avenue takeover organizers in Southern California,” in accordance with a information launch. Authorities alleged Erick Romero Quintana, 20, who boasts over 70,000 social media followers, has coordinated occasions which have resulted in robberies, car thefts and different violent crime. His arrest, officers mentioned, was vital for the whole lot of Southern California.

Natalia Lopez and her son say they consider the Sheriff’s Division is unfairly singling out their enterprise, hoping to seek out proof of crimes dedicated by others.

“I at all times invite them,” she mentioned. “In case you suppose we’re doing one thing, come. The door’s open.”

A couple of months in the past, an irate buyer accused the store’s workers of scratching his automotive’s rims whereas altering a tire, brandishing a rifle as he demanded a $1,000 refund, Natalia Lopez mentioned. She known as the Sheriff’s Division, she mentioned, however when two deputies confirmed up, they detained and questioned her son.

She mentioned earlier than they left, the deputies instructed her: “We’re going to return again as a result of we all know what you’re doing right here.”

Then there was the time deputies tracked two stolen automobiles to the fuel station subsequent door — and a 3rd one {that a} buyer dropped at the store, Bernardo Lopez mentioned. The deputies needed to know who drove the stolen automotive to his store. When he mentioned he didn’t know, they arrested him on suspicion of receiving stolen property, he mentioned. He denied having something to do with the stolen automotive and hasn’t been charged with a criminal offense.

“At this level,” he mentioned, “I feel it’s private.”

A brand new message went up Wednesday exterior Jeffrey’s Tires. This one wasn’t spray-painted on the partitions however written on a white piece of cardboard: “Pricey prospects, because of Compton Sheriff Dep. harassing Jeffrey’s Tires, we’re going to be closed til additional discover. Sorry for the inconvenience.”


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