Suffolk County police are cracking down on the riding of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on public streets and could end up running over the off-road vehicles of repeat offenders.
To illustrate their point, police took a loader from a highway yard in Yaphank and drove more than a dozen ATVs and dirt bikes, flattening them into a scene like something out of a gathering of monster trucks. .
“These vehicles have been identified as nuisance vehicles,” Suffolk County Patrol Chief Gerard Hardy said. “So we’re taking enforcement action and if we don’t get voluntary compliance on our roads, they’ll end up here to be destroyed.”
All-terrain vehicles are not permitted on any public roads in Suffolk County, whether major thoroughfares, freeways or neighborhood streets, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said Friday. But police and neighbors say the vehicles are a countywide public nuisance and a safety risk near other cars on the streets.
Police even offer rewards for calls to a whistleblower line that lead to their seizure.
Harrison said police would start by warning runners and their parents about the risky behavior. This could eventually lead to surveillance and seizure of off-road equipment.
“One of the main concerns that I heard all too often was the reckless driving of these off-road vehicles and illegal dirt bikes causing havoc on the streets of Suffolk County,” Harrison said. “These individuals have no respect for vehicle or traffic laws and public safety.”
Suffolk Police said they received 3,300 complaints from residents last year about noise from ATVs and dirt bikes, as well as reckless driving. Harrison said there have also been complaints of runners running traffic lights and stop signs and blocking traffic.
Police said they were working to identify high profile drivers to conduct visits first and then use the advice of the public to issue fines and seize vehicles. Vehicles may be recovered with a $500 fine and a $30 per day storage fee. Abandoned vehicles and those of repeat offenders will be destroyed.
Police are promoting public help by offering $100 for every Crime Stoppers call to 800-220-TIPS that results in a vehicle being seized.
Off-road vehicles are only permitted on a driver’s private property or if a driver has written permission to drive on someone else’s private property.
Pat Fazio, vice president of Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Commack Fire Marshal, said police have had trouble with riders blocking traffic, and last year an ATV rider crashed into a vehicle on Jericho Turnpike.
“It’s great if you have the property, but they’re not made to be on a road,” Fazio said. “When they gather and terrorize the streets, nothing good can come of it. If you can save a child, it’s worth it.