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11 charged, 9 vehicles impounded in Columbus ATV and dirt bike crackdown

'Operation Wheels Down’ is the latest effort to crack down on illegal and unsafe ATV and dirt bike use throughout the city.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus police arrested 11 people, including a wanted felon, on Saturday during the division’s first operation of the season to crack down on illegal ATV and dirt bike use on city streets.   

Last week, police announced Operation Wheels Down, the latest effort to crack down on what authorities have deemed unsafe and reckless ATV and dirt bike use. 

Saturday marked the first of what Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said is many operations to take place throughout the summer.

Over the course of the day, the operation resulted in the following:

  • 11 people arrested or summonsed 
  • 2 traffic citations issued
  • 1 firearm recovered
  • 9 ATV’s or dirt bikes impounded

Of the people arrested, police said one was a missing person from a nearby Ohio county and another was a wanted felon. Two of the arrests included felony charges for possession of drugs and carrying a concealed weapon.

Drivers who are caught illegally operating an ATV or dirt bike could face a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, the vehicle could be impounded and the driver could spend up to 30 days in jail, Bryant said.

While recklessly driving ATVs and dirt bikes on city streets is illegal, Columbus police have said tracking down drivers can be difficult due to policy that does now allow officers to pursue them in most cases.

“It impacts us all because people want a safe neighborhood. If people don't feel safe, then you lose confidence in the neighborhood,” Jason Williams said.

Williams, who is the owner of Big Fun, says he has seen the illegal riders surround cars and harass drivers. He doesn't want that behavior to drive customers away from his store.

He's happy to see Columbus police take a proactive stance.

“If they are losing their bikes and paying fines and getting some jail time out of it, it should alter some behaviors,” Williams said.

“We are going to make sure that people have the ability to go out in their neighborhoods and not be terrorized by these ATV's and dirt bikes,” Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight said.

While efforts like Operation Wheels Down are aimed at lowering the number of reckless drivers on city streets, officials have said they rely on community members to report the incidents as quickly as possible.

“We need to know where you are seeing this activity. We need to know what neighborhoods are being terrorized by these vehicles, so we can concentrate our efforts,” Knight said.

To send anonymously send photos and videos to Columbus police, you can email them here.

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