COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s been two weeks since law enforcement from across central Ohio announced a crackdown on illegal ATV and dirt bike riders.
Over the weekend, police departments started their efforts on “Operation 52” in hopes of stopping the reckless riders of off-road vehicles.
“That was your warning; there won’t be another,” said LaShanna Potts, assistant chief of the Columbus Division of Police. “These vehicles are not toys and our streets are not your playground. What you’re doing is putting lives at risk, including your own. If life and safety isn’t enough to convince you, know this: we will find you and we will seize your vehicle. “
On Wednesday, police announced the results of the operation over the past weekend:
- 11 ATVs impounded
- 11 arrests
- 5 firearms recovered
- 2 stolen ATVs recovered
- Multiple misdemeanor citations and several felony charges
The charges were made possible thanks in part to Columbus City Council passing legislation on July 26, creating an offense for reckless operation of an ATV or dirt bike, carrying a minimum penalty of $500 and a maximum penalty of $1,000.
Police said with the current trends in violence, recovering the firearms was a major step in violence reduction as well.
One of the guns recovered was in the hands of a pre-teen.
“A juvenile that’s 12 years old with a loaded firearm,” said Franklin County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Gilbert. “We took that firearm off of him Friday night and there’s no telling what could have potentially happened with that loaded firearm or him later on in the evening.”
“We understand that Columbus is seeing an increase in gun violence and so for us, this was a win for this division,” Potts added. “It was a win for this community, and it was a win for all our local partners who stood with us. Those are five guns that could have been used to do something else beside ride ATVs.”
Police said that in some of the weekend’s cases, suspects fled from them. Some got away while others weren’t as successful.
When caught, those suspects will face additional charges for fleeing on top of the reckless operation.
“We had felony weapons charges and a variety of charges we intend on levying against the individuals who are still outstanding because they fled from us and we have videotape of that,” said Columbus Division of Police Deputy Chief Jennifer Knight. “I’ll just tell you right now, If you fled from the Columbus Police, go ahead and turn yourself in because we’re coming to find you. We’re going to charge you and if you turn yourself in now, that’s the best-case scenario for you.”
Columbus Police have eight suspects they’re currently looking to identify.
If you know any of these people, you’re asked to call Columbus Police, who also said their enforcement efforts aren’t over.
Officials wouldn’t say when or where the next crackdown will take place, just that it will happen soon.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Columbus Police at 614-645-1434.