Hazleton police cracking down on illegal street vehicles

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Officials are combatting a continuing problem in one of Luzerne County’s largest cities.

The Hazleton Police Department has been fighting to get ATVs off the city’s streets, sidewalks and alleyways.

“They’ve been weaving and causing problems with the traffic where we have people calling saying hey listen I almost hit this kid on the bike you know in the middle of the street what can we do?” said Hazleton Police Chief Brian Schoonmaker.

Over the weekend Hazelton police say they tried to pull over the person who was seen riding a green dirt bike recklessly and at a high rate of speed on South Church Street. Police say he fled and they are still searching for him.

Chief Schoonmaker tells Eyewitness News this is a safety issue.

“They don’t need to be terrorizing the residents of the city through traffic or going through cutting through businesses and trespassing on peoples properties and destroying things,” he said.

Eyewitness News spoke with city residents about the issue. One did not want to talk on camera for fear of retaliation, but stated in a message “they fly around school buses and cars while they drive, almost to taunt them”.

Resident’s say they also gather out by the train tracks leaving the city toward McAdoo.

Different businesses Eyewitness News spoke with along South Church Street say they don’t let them on their property but the vehicles find their way around them.

The police department says their newly formed drone program will help them with the ongoing issue.

“We are going to be kicking that off in full swing shortly here with the way it’s been going and we’ll be trying to get those officers out to identify where the ATVs are where they’re going to and where we can find a cut off point where we can continue with our city ordinance. We’re gonna be seizing them and destroying them as we go,” Schoonmaker explained.

Schoonmaker says suggests trying avoid them on the roadways and let the police know when and where you see them are so they continue to crack down on the problem.

There is a city ordinance in place that prohibits all-terrain vehicles on streets, sidewalks or alleys within the city.

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