STATEN ISLAND — Not every problem can be solved with a bulldozer, but for illegal dirt bikes and ATVs, New York City leaders are willing to try.
The NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio got aggressive towards the city’s issues with illegal vehicles Thursday afternoon at a Staten Island sanitation yard.
Two heavy bulldozers ran over about 50 confiscated dirt bikes, ATVs and scooters. The bulldozers then backed up and ran over them again.
“We mean business,” Mayor de Blasio said. “We want to be very clear to anyone out there who has an illegal dirt bike: don’t even think about it, because the NYPD will find it and will crush it. These bikes are dangerous.”
Officials said there is an urgent need to get these bikes and recreation vehicles off the streets. The problems they cause are much larger than just noise complaints.
In the first quarter of this year, city officials said the illegal vehicles played a role in the deaths of eight people, while injuring more than 350 others.
“This is what brings us here today,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Robert Martinez said. “We will continue to be relentless in taking these bikes off the streets.”
Last year, the NYPD seized and crushed 500 illegal dirt bikes and ATVs. This year, they’re on track to destroy six times that amount.
“This year alone we have destroyed 1,000 so far. We are on pace to have 2,500 to 3,000 of these vehicles off the streets,” Deputy Commissioner Martinez said.
An equally big problem are the riders of the illegal vehicles themselves.
The NYPD said a large number of robberies, carjackings, assaults, shootings, and more have all been tied to criminals who frequently use dirt bikes to carry out their crimes.
Recently, a BMW driver in Inwood was surrounded by bikers and blocked in as he tried to pull out of a parking space. NYPD officials said the bikers violently yanked the driver out of his car at gunpoint, attacked him, stole his necklace, broke his nose and then drove off with his vehicle.
When members of the public spot people riding these vehicles on city streets illegally or parking them for storage, Mayor de Blasio said the public has an obligation to notify law enforcement.
“We need the good people of the city to give us the information. We need people to call in those reports because that’s the best way for us to act. When we know where these bikes are being stored, that’s how we get them off the streets,” he said.
The fines if you get caught riding an illegal dirt bike, ATV, or scooter start at $500 and can go much higher from there, depending on what you are seen doing with it. Your vehicle will then be confiscated, and if you can’t prove that you legally own it, officials said it will be destroyed.