There is a new way to catching crooks in your neighborhood. St. Petersburg Police officers are using 4-wheelers to catch thieves and drug dealers in the act.
Grass, curbs, parks, there are no obstacle too big for the ATVs to take on. At first glance, they look a little strange.
“I thought it was a golf cart,” joked one resident.
They seem especially odd when you see the ATVs zooming down the street, but the 4-wheelers keep up at speeds up to 60 miles an hour.
They’re a welcome sight for Marlene Murray, a homeowner in the Meadowlawn neighborhood in St. Pete.
“We know they’re there, we know why they’re there and neighbors are giving them tips and hints to catch anyone up to no good,” she explained.
Murray and her neighbors are hoping the ATVs send a message to the drug dealers and car thieves preying on their homes.
“Stay away,” she said with a laugh.
Most of her neighbors have invested in cameras. They caught car burglars in the act working quickly to yank on car doors. The thieves were gone in seconds. That’s where these ATVs come in. They’re helping officers catch thieves quicker.
Sgt. Terri Hubble explains, “With these 4-wheelers we can literally drive up and we are on the problem immediately, whereas in the car you have to park it and maneuver around.”
Officers have had 20 ATVs for about a year, but they just started using them in neighbors and the results are astounding.
“Several drug arrests, many thieves, people caught trespassing,” Hubble added.
Officers have made dozens of arrests and are catching thieves they’ve been searching around St. Pete for months.
The 4-wheelers are so stealthy they can sneak right up on the bad guys.
The extra help from the ATVs is coming at a good time. Car break-ins have spiked across Tampa Bay, but officers hope these 4-wheelers will help them bust even the most brazen burglars.
You can call the police station and ask for officers to come patrol your neighborhood too.
Officers also hope to use the ATVS to develop closer relationships with neighbors. The 4-wheelers are getting a lot of attention and that’s opening up the doors for conversations that can build trust. Officers tell us that’s incredibly important to get tips that can solve crimes.
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