LOCK ’em up

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 15, 2002

ATVs targeted by thieves

By Alan Riquelmy / Selma Times – Journal

You probably give some thought to your car or truck being stolen. You lock the doors and take the keys out of the ignition when you park.

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You may even have a car alarm.

It might also be wise to think about protecting your all-terrain vehicle (ATV) &045; also known in the South as a &uot;four-wheeler.&uot;

Police say ATVs are relatively easy to steal and hard to find once stolen because they don’t have to be registered. They are also easy for thieves to sell.

Greene said the punishment for stealing an ATV depends on the defendant, but it is a felony offense. Most cases have guilty pleas, he added.

Greene remembered one example of a theft that occurred about a year ago. He said that three to four people had stolen an ATV from a field where a motorcycle rally was held. Instead of cranking the engine and riding it away, he said, they pushed the ATV to a waiting truck where it was loaded.

Sometime later, one of the thieves was found near Jones, riding around on the ATV. Eventually, all the thieves were picked up.

Greene said that ATV theft usually happens in September when hunters begin to arrive for the hunting season. Recently, Greene said, he hasn’t seen a report about ATV theft.

Ray Hogg, of Hogg Engineering, had a close call with an ATV thief just a few months ago. He said that early in the morning he awoke to the sound of a truck running its motor. He checked his carport and saw that his ATV was missing before running around to the front of his house and seeing a man in the process of stealing his ATV.

Hogg scared the man enough for him to drop the trailer gate he was holding and jump in the truck. As the thief pulled away, Hogg said he began chasing him down the street.

At the time, however, Hogg said he didn’t notice that his ATV had rolled off the truck and back onto his property. Only when he had chased the truck up the street and back down it to his house did he see it.

Hogg said that at that point the thief stopped the truck near his house, and that’s when Hogg ran to the carport and called the police. The thief left quickly after that.

It wasn’t the first time that someone had tried to steal an ATV from Hogg, either, he said. In 1994 a thief was successful in stealing his ATV in the middle of the day.

Hogg said that his office overlooks the battlefield where the Battle of Selma is reenacted. At 2 p.m. his ATV was there and at 5 p.m. it was gone.

Upon inspection, Hogg said that ATV tracks could be seen going down the hill at the back of his office where it was loaded onto a truck.

That ATV was never recovered, Hogg said.

Bob Myers, State Farm Insurance Agent, said that insurance is available for ATV’s, but not many people get it.

Myers said that many people wrongly assume that ATVs are covered by homeowners insurance, but that isn’t the case.

Myers added that premiums for ATVs are based on the age of the vehicle, how much it cost new and the size of its engine or horsepower.

According to Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman Jr., there was an ATV theft in the area about two

weeks ago. The ATV had been attached to a trailer with a chain, Huffman said, and the thief used a bolt cutter to cut the chain before taking the ATV.

However, ATV thefts have been decreasing, according to Huffman. There haven’t been as many stolen this year as the last, he added.

Huffman estimated that around 10 to 12 had been stolen in the last few years.

He said he didn’t believe that the thefts were part of an organized ring. He said that there was no pattern in the thefts, and that they’ve occurred in all parts of Dallas County.

Huffman added that maybe one or two people are involved in each theft.

Huffman said that he thought many thefts occur just for the thrill of it.

He added that the police have found a couple of ATVs that had been stripped of materials. The thieves will take parts off one to fix another. The same thing happens with cars, Huffman added.

The best way to protect your ATV, Huffman said, is to lock it in a building.

Also, Huffman emphasized that all ATV owners should keep the serial number and a description of the vehicle on hand. Having a picture of the ATV is also helpful, Huffman said.

Lt. David Evans of the Selma Police Department said the thefts are handled as theft of property first degree.

Evans said that a problem with finding stolen ATV’s is that they aren’t required to be registered with the state. This makes it very difficult to recover them.

Evans suggested using a strong chain, good padlock and locking the vehicle to a tree as a good method of protecting an ATV.