ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County Sheriff John Mina says local police agencies are working together to stop the groups of ATV riders who are driving recklessly on Central Florida roads and putting other motorists' lives at risk.
Mina's announcement comes after several incidents involving illegal ATV riders.
On Sunday, at least a dozen riders swarmed Edgewood, causing a crash with a pregnant woman who they then assaulted, according to police. Later that same day, deputies said a group made an illegal U-turn on Florida's Turnpike, ultimately causing another crash.
In the most recent encounter, a deputy who was trying to stop an ATV rider ended up getting dragged behind the vehicle for almost 10 feet, according to the arrest report.
Mina said this type of behavior won't be tolerated.
"We know that this reckless, dangerous behavior by ATV and motorcycle riders poses a threat to our community. We want to show everyone we're being being very proactive in our measures in order to stop this behavior," Mina said.
In a recent meeting, police agencies across Central Florida committed to cracking down on illegal ATV riding. As part of that, Mina said officers and deputies will ramp up patrols, arrest suspects on the most serious felony charges and seize any vehicles or property related to their crimes.
"Our message to the street racers who are out there driving recklessly, putting fear into our residents, is that we are going to find you, we are going to arrest you and we will seize your vehicle," Mina said.
Deputies said in the past year alone, they have arrested 200 people in one portion of Orange County while doing street racing details and they expect more arrests to come.
In many cases, the ATV and dirt bike riders come to Central Florida from other parts of the state, but Mina wants it to be known that illegal activity is not welcome in the region.
"We're going to send a strong message to these groups who are traveling here from other states, from other areas, that we're not going to tolerate it," Mina said.
Any motorist who sees illegal activity on the road is asked to immediately report it by calling 911 or local law enforcement.
"We're asking people not to take matters into their own hands, to please call 911 and let us handle it and rest assured -- especially if you see a large group -- we do want you to call 911, but just because you don't see law enforcement in the area doesn't mean we're not monitoring them from the air, and that's exactly what happened on Sunday," Mina said.
The Edgewood Police Department also acknowledged the partnership among agencies to crack down on the packs of ATVs, motorcycles and dirt bikes swarming the area. Edgewood officers echoed Mina in asking residents not to take matters into their own hands. Instead, they offered the following tips:
• Let them pass you, then call 911.
• If you are unable to get out of their way, try to slow down. They’ll eventually go around you.
• Be a good witness. Take notes where you are located, the color and markings on the motorcycle or ATV and their direction of travel.
• Take notes of the rider such as, clothing, helmet, facemask, etc.
• If you or a passenger tries to record the bikers, be discrete to avoid provoking confrontation.
• Stay in your vehicle.
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