The Orange Police Department is being accused of unjustly impounding 17 sports cars, including a couple of Lamborghinis and a Nissan GT-R.
But the department’s spokesman counters the report is inaccurate and, in some parts, fabricated.
For one thing, Lt. Fred Lopez says 16 cars were impounded.
In “Car Crime” on Jalopnik, Jason Torchinsky presents the “baffling story” related to him by Uzzi Chowdhry, who alleges police in Orange seized cars earlier this year and left them in impound for more than 100 days “for reasons that have yet to be disclosed to owners.”
One such car, a BMW M3, belongs to Chowdhry. Here is the story he relates: The day after Christmas last year, he and a group of friends, mostly college students, went for a drive. The lead car, a Mustang, had a minor incident with a cyclist in Orange. No injuries were reported, and damage was minor for both the bike and the car. Chowdhry says the cyclist was found to be at fault and was cited at the scene. No other drivers in the group were cited for any infractions.
But in January, the drivers of the cars in the convoy received calls from Orange Police about the bike crash. The officer who’d responded to the scene in December never filed a report and, since then, had suffered an accident of his own that caused him to lose his memory. When car drivers failed to show up to the police station to answer questions, their cars were impounded, Chowdhry claims.
Another driver who had his car impounded reportedly told Torchinsky police accused them of belonging to an organized street racing gang.
The Jalopnik report and others online (including that of Car Ninja, which broke the story) go into much more details, but suffice it to say that Lt. Lopez does not agree with the drivers’ spin. He calls the coverage “a poor piece of journalism.”
“We did impound 16 cars,” confirms Lopez, adding the operation was “pursuant to a court order that was legally obtained through the Orange County District Attorney’s office by a Superior Court judge at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.”
Lopez adds, “The bicyclist that was hit sustained some significant injuries” but that no arrests were made.
The police investigation into the incident was forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, which conducted its own probe before assigning Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon to the case.
The online reports indicate it has been difficult for car owners and reporters to get answers from Orange Police about what is happening, but Lopez immediately responded to the Weekly.
“Everyone that has called our agency has had their telephone calls returned in a timely manner,” he claims. “Everyone that has asked has received my contact information and is welcome to call me. I may not be able to provide the information they are looking for, but I will return their calls.”
As far as what happens now to the drivers, the ball is in the DA’s court.
“I have been told that they are not prepared to comment on this investigation until such time that the investigation that we submitted has been thoroughly reviewed,” Lopez says.