The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is trying to put an end to the rising trend in ATV thefts.
Since July 2015, deputies have seen an increase in the thefts of four-wheelers, dirt bikes, go carts and golf carts.
Investigators say many of these off-road vehicles are taken because they’re hard to track and easy to sell -- a prime target for thieves looking for cash.
You can’t drive an ATV in traffic, but it's perfect for mudding, off-roading and racing. ATVs are a hot commodity in Hernando County, especially with people who live in the rural parts.
“Normally we get maybe two or three a month and occasionally it will go up to five in a bad month,” Sheriff Al Nienhuis said.
The sheriff says over the past few months those numbers have only been increasing. A map sent to us by the department shows nearly 40 thefts from July 2015 to March 2016.
“It’s sad to see someone spending $8,000 or $9,000 on these things for their kids and all of a sudden it's gone,” said Charlie Roberts, general manager of Barney’s of Brooksville.
Charlie Roberts says he hears new stories about thieves all the time.
“We just had one a couple weeks ago. They went to the property, took their trailer, took it down the street, broke into it and took what was inside, their motorcycles.”
While the sheriff says some thieves are cutting locks or stealing from sheds. Other ATVs left in the open are taken straight off properties.
“The best place to put it is behind closed doors and lock it up,” Nienhuis said.
If that doesn’t work, the sheriff says know your VIN number and customize your ATV so there’s no doubt it's yours. Like all crimes, you can help catch these thieves by reporting it.
If you have any information about the recent rise in ATV thefts in Hernando County, please call the Sheriff’s Office at 352-754-6830.