Baltimore Police Dirt Bike Task Force is cracking down on illegal riding

104 dirt bikes and ATVs have been seized

BALITMORE - They fly down Baltimore City streets in large groups. Their daring tricks command a following of people thrilled by the riding. But for others, it's terrifying. And police want to stamp out the careless cruising.

"A lot of them are gun-toting criminals who travel throughout the city, recklessly, lawlessly, and with impunity on these dirt bikes," said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

On July 7 the Baltimore Police Department announced a Dirt Bike Task Force to focus on the illegal and dangerous riding.

The four-officer unit works with cops on the streets to snatch the bikes and investigate crimes related to riding.  Watching from above, the police can spot riders, and stashed bikes.    

"We've made some great strides eradicating the dirt bike problem in Baltimore,” said Dirt Bike Task Force Supervisor Sgt. Christopher Warren. “We've concentrated on some of our known riders, we've conducted several search warrants."

In the nearly two months the unit has been operating, they've served four search warrants. The most recent was on Aug. 4.  Five dirt bikes and three ATVs were seized in Southwest Baltimore. The machines are all brought to a city impound lot.

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A dirt bike, fresh from the streets, was seized Wednesday night, bringing the total to 104 off road vehicles confiscated in the last 7.5 weeks. 

The rider ditched the bike on the side of the road, along with a backpack and then ran off. Inside the bag, officers found two loaded 9-millimeter handguns. One was stolen from West Virginia.        

Investigators say the riding culture often comes with violence, crime and firearms.

Three riders died in 2015. Three people were hurt after run-ins with dirt bike riders over a two-week span in June. Two people were viciously attacked after crashing into bikes, and one woman was run over.

The Task Force is aggressively cracking down, saying the riding is a public safety issue.

"We've recovered hand guns, numerous stolen dirt bikes that we're in the process of returning to the rightful owners," Warren said.

He tells us out of the 86 dirt bikes and 18 ATVs they've taken off the streets, about 20 percent were stolen. After those are returned, the rest of the powerful machines will be destroyed.

Dirt bikes and ATVs are illegal to ride in the city, and it's against the law to store them inside homes. Officers are not allowed to chase riders through the streets, so a dirt bike hotline was set up that people can call or text with tips at 443-902-4474.

"We get numerous tips from the community, where dirt bikes are being stored, whose riding the dirt bikes and where we should concentrate our efforts at,” Warren said.

He tells us many residents are on-board with the unit's priority of curbing the illegal culture.

Last August, Baltimore City Councilman Pete Welch introduced a resolution looking to build a dedicated dirt bike park. The legislation has been in committee since March. ABC2 News reached out to the Councilman Thursday to find out where the plan stands, but we never heard back.

Anyone arrested for riding or hiding a dirt bike in charm city can face up to 90-days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

"It's not the image that our city needs,” Warren said.  “Our city is one of the greatest in America, you know, we should be known for the Inner Harbor, the Orioles and crabs."

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