Massachusetts State Police arrested seven people and seized 18 off-road vehicles Thursday in a multi-agency operation targeting motorists who allegedly illegally operate dirt bikes and ATVs on Lawrence streets, according to a statement.
State police said the sting was carried out with the help of air units that relayed aerial information about off-road operators to police on the ground.
In addition to the seven people arrested, 10 others will be summonsed to face criminal charges.
Fifty citations were also issued in connection to the crackdown, according to officials. The criminal charges include unlicensed operation, reckless operation, and receiving a stolen motor vehicle. Police said some of the seized bikes are suspected of having been previously stolen. Investigators also seized a stolen car during the operation.
The joint police effort came amid an influx of complaints about individuals operating dirt bikes and ATVs on city streets, according to the statement.
“The operation of off-road vehicles on city streets, often driven recklessly, causes a significant safety threat to motorists and pedestrians,” state police said in a news release. “Complaints of dirt bike and ATV operation on Lawrence streets have increased in recent years. Operating an off-road vehicle on a public way is a violation of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90B, Section 25.”
Earlier this week, while responding to off-road vehicle complaints in Lawrence, a state police Gang Unit trooper was injured when he was assaulted by the driver of an off-road vehicle. That man was arrested for assault and battery on a police officer.
Several law enforcement agencies assisted in Thursday’s crackdown, including police from Lawrence, Methuen, Andover, and North Andover. Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department also helped in the operation.
The Massachusetts State Police Air Wing helped spot several off-road vehicles from the sky.
On Friday, state police shared aerial video of the operation on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Investigators said that after fleeing police ground units, some suspects tried to hide their off-road vehicles, while others abandoned their bikes and fled on foot. Using the helicopter’s mapping system, state police flight crew were able to tell ground officers where to find the suspects, as well as the hidden vehicles.
State and local police carried out similar joint operations in Springfield and Lawrence in 2021 and in Brockton earlier this year.
The undertaking was well-received by social media users, with many people saying the problem exists in their communities as well.
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