NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The warm weather has brought stunt devils out in droves – ATV and dirt bike riders who pop wheelies and off-road on city streets and in neighborhoods where police say they don’t belong. Now New Haven is cracking down.
“ATV and dirt bike riding has been terrorizing our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Justin Elicker at a press conference Monday.
“It’s extremely dangerous,” added Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson Monday. “Yesterday there was a large ride. We made 9 arrests and 12 bikes were seized.”
Most of the riders arrested Sunday were adults in their 20s. Two officers were hurt as they took bikers into custody, but their injuries are minor.
The issue is not always the bikes themselves, but the fact that they are ridden on city streets when the vehicles are not ‘street legal.’ Many riders additionally don’t wear safety equipment and drive in a manner that is dangerous to them and the cars around them.
Jacobson says most of the bikers are coming from outside New Haven – many from Hartford, where police there just crushed dozens of quads last week.
So New Haven is forming a regional coalition to tackle the problem.
“I’ve talked to West Haven, East Haven, North Haven, Hamden, Connecticut State Police, even as far as North Branford. They all equally have this problem and they all want to join us,” said Jacobson.
“We’re going to use all tools necessary to stop this from happening,” said the mayor.
That means looking into holding gas stations responsible for fueling up illegal dirt bikes and quads, and stiffer penalties for riders including felony charges and bigger fines.
The mayor says New Haven may use a helicopter to track riders.
And they’re asking for tips from residents – if you know of places these bikes may be stored, call police on their tip line at 1-866-888-TIPS.
Police say more arrests are coming. They’re looking through surveillance video to identify more violaters.
“So many people in our community want this to stop,” said Elicker.
Police say they could auction off the bikes they’ve confiscated, or they could destroy them. They’re still looking into their options.