Establishing a task force to cut down on stolen ATV's in Tulsa County

Monday, May 19th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa County has had a rash of ATV's stolen recently. So many, in fact, the sheriff's office plans to start a task force just to attack the problem. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright takes a look at what's happening and some possible solutions.

"We came home Sunday after church and my ATV was parked right there and it was gone." Rick Merton could hardly believe his eyes, he'd spent months saving for his four-wheeler and paid cash for it and only owned it a few weeks when it was stolen. It was a Yamaha Kodiak, brown and black with the front grate removed.

This type of theft has been growing by leaps and bounds in Green Country and all over the US. Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputy Sgt Phil Cervantes, “We see a spike in these thefts when there's a need for drugs. They sell them for drugs. They may only get 10 cents on the dollar, but, they get their drug money."

ATV's are easy to steal because most owners don't think to chain them up or lock them and they can easily be loaded into a truck without having to hotwire them. Most states, like Oklahoma, don't require owners to register their ATV's, so they're hard to track down.

But the sheriff's office has a plan to change that. They'll assign a number to anyone's ATV or trailer or farm equipment so they'll have a way to prove it's stolen if it's found and can get it back to the original owner, which won't help Rick this time, but maybe next. "You'd never think in a million years they'd do that in broad daylight."

But burglars will only get bolder as long as they can get a vehicle worth several thousand dollars in just a couple of seconds and not have much chance of getting caught. Rick also found out most ATV's aren't covered by homeowner's insurance.

If you'd like to get a piece of farm equipment or trailer or ATV registered at the sheriff's office, you can call 596-5670 after June 1st.

Another good thing to do if you're buying a used ATV, is get your local police to run the VIN number to see if it's been stolen, so you don't buy someone else's property.