Police cracking down on ATV riders in Hazleton

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s a tragedy waiting to happen. That’s what many people in a Luzerne County community are saying about the dangerous antics of ATV drivers. It’s gotten so bad in some parts of Hazleton that the police chief promises a crackdown on those ATV drivers.

Eyewitness News talked with so many people in recent days who say they’ve had close calls with these ATV drivers and now the police chief is saying enough is enough!

“It’s dirt bikes, it’s ATVs. One day somebody’s going to get killed,” Hazleton business owner John Keegan said.

Keegan owns a pharmacy on South Poplar Street in the Heights section of Hazleton and he has seen the danger up close. He shot a video from his car several weeks ago several blocks from his store.

“As soon as we both made the turn, he overtook me went into the northbound lanes of Poplar and went south. He just wanted to show he’s in charge,” Keegan said.

Keegan says he fears the worst when he sees them speeding past his store.

“They don’t realize one day they are going to kill somebody and the consequences are going to be so much worse,” Keegan said.

That won’t happen if Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale has anything to say about it.

“It’s so dangerous Andy when you chase an ATV. You’ll see some of the videos where they are going around the cars. Imagine a patrol car and people don’t have the vision to see the small off-road vehicles coming alongside of them. Somebody’s going to get killed,” Speziale said.

So they will increase patrols for sure, but they won’t necessarily chase these ATVs. Hazleton will soon implement new technology that would allow an officer to tag an ATV or off-road vehicle and track it electronically.

“What we are trying to do is trying to determine where they are going back to. Once we do that we are getting search warrants. We are going to execute those search warrants on those locations and we are going to seize the actual vehicle,” Speziale said.

Chief Speziale is urging the public to contact them with any information regarding these reckless ATV drivers. That information, he says, just might help prevent a tragedy.

Of course, it is illegal to drive vehicles like ATVs or dirt bikes on public streets. You can face fines of up to $500.

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