Police in Maryland using new tool to target illegal ATV, dirt bike riders during holiday weekend

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Prince George's County police are gearing up to crack down on illegal dirt bike and all-terrain vehicle riders this Labor Day holiday weekend.

Prince George's County police said these riders have become a bigger and bigger problem for them and the community. Back in June, about a hundred of them tore through the streets and sidewalks of National Harbor.

"That is when things kind of went to a new level for us," said Prince George's County Police Cpl. Tyler Hunter. "During a busy time, there were people on the sidewalks in a very populated area at the National Harbor. These bikes were up on the sidewalk and were causing danger. We have been receiving a flood of information - where these bikes are stored, who is operating them. We are getting a lot of community support, which is encouraging to us."

These illegal riders have caused issues on the streets of Washington D.C. and Virginia as well.

The enforcement operation this weekend targeting ATV and dirt bikes will involve 50 Prince George's County police officers and 25 Maryland State Police troopers. They will also have air support from both agencies.

But a new tool officers will be using this weekend is tire deflating devices similar to spike strips or stop sticks. These are specifically created to slowly and safely deflate the tires of off-road vehicles.

"This specific strip - the spike that is embedded in the tire is hollow - so instead of popping the tire or causing a very rapid deflation, it embeds itself in the tire and it basically lets the air out of a tire very slowly at a controlled rate, which allows the vehicle to come to a slower and more controlled stop," said Cpl. Hunter.

Police are also working off of surveillance images and tips trying to identify riders before they head out. Police are asking residents that if they see a pack of riders, and if it is safe to do so, to use their phones to capture photos or videos of these riders as well as call 911.