ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Police Department has begun seizing and towing illegal dirt bikes and ATVs, after multiple fatal crashes caused a surge in concerns from the community.
According to police, four illegal dirt bikes and ATVs were seized and towed on public streets Monday, during a targeted law enforcement detail. Police say they plan to continue carrying out those targeted details in the coming weeks.
A statement issued by the RPD Tuesday reads in part, “The Rochester Police Department is working in conjunction with other area law enforcement agencies to address this issue through education, engagement, enforcement and if need be, the seizure and towing of illegal motorcycles and ATVs.”
The issue of illegal dirt bikes and ATVs gained attention in Rochester on March 21, when a 9-year-old boy died in a dirt bike crash. Investigators say the child was on the back of the dirt bike with his father when his father hit a curb, causing the crash. Neither rider was wearing a helmet.
Another fatal dirt bike crash happened the following evening, when a 21-year-old rider crashed into a sedan on Hudson Avenue.
Local lawmakers began calling for action shortly after those fatal crashes. On April 13, Rochester City Councilmember Jose Peo told News 8 he was working on legislation that would see violators pay fines adding up to about the cost of a dirt bike.
Rochester police say they will partner with Monroe County and other local law enforcement agencies on a multi-jurisdictional ATV plan.
“There’s no question it’s an illegal activity and we’ve had two fatalities on those particular types of dirt bikes and motorcycles,” says Deputy Chief Mark Mura.
Deputy Chief Mark Mura says the fatal accidents are far too many.
“It’s dangerous for you, it’s dangerous for the rest of the community. It’s not safe, it’s against the law,” he says.
City Councilman Jose Peo is looking to not just seize these vehicles—- but also charge thousands of dollars for owners to get them back. He says this is a good first step by RPD, but they need to keep doing it. He wants discipline back on the streets.
“They need to pay for doing illegal activities. These are illegal activities. We can’t just let it slide,” says Peo.
Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter saying for the sake of safety— they are looking at alternate ways to catch violators…rather than a risky high-speed chase.
“We’re looking at drone technology, putting it in the sky and following these guys and corralling them someplace. We’re looking at different ways of doing traffic enforcement,” says Baxter. He adds, “My goal is to impound a few of these bikes and write as many tickets as we can write.”
Mura says they are still looking at what other cities have done to combat the issue. “This is not just a Rochester problem, it’s not just a New York problem, this is across the country,” says Mura.
Police encourage anyone who sees dirt bikes or ATVs on city streets or sidewalks to anonymously call 911.