ATVs, four-wheel drives: Law enforcement set to step up patrols
by Michele Longworth
Jul 10, 2013 | 1520 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Four-wheel drives and all terrain vehicles have been problematic in the past, but Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder said this year especially, the number of incidents involving four-wheel drive trucks in the fields in Unionville bottoms has been bad.

Holder said there have been reports of trucks deliberately driving through fields planted with crops, driving for a half a mile in the field. He said the drivers of the four-wheel drive trucks typically can be found in the fields after a rainfall, when the fields are muddy.

According to Holder, the problem is the drivers of the four-wheel drive trucks trespass on the fields and end up damaging farmers’ crops, which Holder estimates for some farmers could end up costing thousands of dollars, because the farmers have to spend more time and fuel for their equipment to re-plant crops and repair the ruts in the field.

Holder said over a week ago one Massac County farmer chased out a driver of a four-wheel drive vehicle from his field at 3 a.m. He said the farmer did get a description of that vehicle. This past Saturday, the sheriff’s department deputies spent time in Unionville bottoms patrolling, but Holder said deputies did not see any signs of trespassing. “You just never know when they’re (drivers of four-wheel drives) are going to show up,” he said.

Holder said local farmers have told him, ‘How would a person like it if we drove to town on our tractors and drove into their front yard?’

The other problem the sheriff’s department has been dealing with has been with four wheelers that are driving along Massac and Barnes creeks. Holder said people often think because it’s a creek that it does not belong to anyone. However, he emphasizes that the creeks are a part of peoples’ properties.

The drivers of the ATVs are driving on highways, which is illegal, and they are driving on other peoples’ land without permission. He said landowners often have no trespassing signs posted or have purple paint on trees, yet the drivers of the ATVs disregard the signs and drive on the property without permission.

According to Holder, most recently, there was a landowner who had a cable across the road on their property, but not only did the ATV driver tear down the cable, the driver took the cable. Holder said the ATV drivers will ride up and down the creek and drive up the creek bank, which causes erosion to occur.

Holder said he has been in contact with Illinois State Police, which will be stepping up its patrols along the county’s roads and individuals who are riding on ATVs on county or state roadways could face charges if they are caught, as it is against the law to ride ATVs on the roadways.

He also said he has been in contact with Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which will be assisting the sheriff’s department with patrolling the creeks more closely. Holder said DNR can issue citations for riding ATVs on land without permission.

In addition to those citations from ISP and DNR, individuals who are caught trespassing on another person’s property could also face a charge of criminal damage to property. He also stressed if individuals are caught trespassing with an ATV or four-wheel drive on another person’s property without permission, authorities could also confiscate those vehicles or ATVs and impound them.

According to Holder, those vehicles or ATVs would then serve as restitution for any damage that is done to a person’s property or field.

Holder advises the public if anyone does see a four-wheel drive in a field illegally or an ATV on a roadway, to get a description of the vehicle and a license plate number, if possible, and contact the sheriff’s department at 524-2912 with that information.
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