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Crackdown on Vendors Bears Fruit, Vegetables

Times Staff Writer

More than a ton of fruit and vegetables was seized, nearly 75 citations issued and several pushcarts impounded Saturday in a sweeping crackdown on illegal street vendors in Pacoima.

Local law enforcement and health agencies cooperated in the five-hour sweep that targeted unlicensed vendors--from Popsicle peddlers to fruit salesmen--who hawk their goods along Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road.

“It was a big caper,” said Sgt. Ken Dionne of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Foothill Division.

Included in the task force were the Police Department and Los Angeles County’s Agriculture, Health and Building and Safety departments.

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Complaints from local businessmen, who say the vendors are able to undercut their prices, prompted the crackdown, Sgt. Gene Fretheim said.

Police issued citations and arrested three men after they could not produce identification, Fretheim said. Police also impounded nine pushcarts and more than 500 pirated copies of audio cassettes.

Health Department officials closed down 23 vendors, including 11 catering trucks.

Officials from the county Department of Agriculture issued seven citations and confiscated 2,672 pounds of fruit and vegetables. The produce was donated to charity.

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Fretheim said street vendors had long been a problem in the area and had ignored repeated warnings from police.

Los Angeles City Councilman Ernani Bernardi said his office has received numerous complaints from merchants that the street vendors take away business.

Fretheim agreed but was unsure how much the sweep did to combat the problem. “I hope it had an effect, but I’m sure they’re going to be right back out there,” he said.


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