Video from Newark incident last year

NEWARK — The planes at Newark Airport weren't the only fast vehicles in the city. Police took to the ground and sky to stop quads, dirt bikes during an illegal bike rally held throughout the city. Thanks to their efforts, more than a dozen people from all over the east coast were arrested, and police expect to arrest more.

Police Capt. Derek Glenn said after the weekend events, police had impounded 22 trucks and one trailer Sunday night with 11 people arrested so far. Glenn said that number was expected to rise, as was the number of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles that had been towed, which as of Monday morning was 16.

Glenn said events like this weekend's are not new, but have also changed over time.

"We saw it on a lot smaller scale last year," he said, adding that last year there might only be six or seven vehicles involved as opposed to the much larger turnout this weekend.

"If you look nationally in Florida, they had several hundred this week," he added. Those events are sometimes called "Bikes Up, Guns Down," or "Wheels up, Guns Down."  A release from the Newark Police Department said the event was not all peaceful as two police cars were vandalized while officers were trying to arrest a participant.

The Newark event included people from as far away as Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. Glenn said police were investigating why people came to Newark for this event. He said the fact that Newark has long, straight streets is likely one feature that the riders found attractive when choosing the location.

Not only were people arrested, but Glenn said he hoped other efforts by the department would stop future large scale events from happening in the future. In addition to targeting the vehicles involved in the rally, Glenn said they also looked for rental trucks and vans that were used to transport the ATVs and bikes to town. They also kept any vehicles for which owners could not produce the proper paperwork. 

He said another advantage this year was the use of a department helicopter, which helped to track people where police cars could not get through. Glenn called the use of the helicopter and taking of vehicles "definitive steps" in addressing the issues.

"If it's costing you money either because you're being arrested because of your behavior, your bike is missing, and the vehicle that you brought it down with is also towed, it should help abate the problem," he said.

"The menace that is caused by the operation of these illegal vehicles in the City of Newark will not be tolerated," Mayor Ras Baraka said in the statement. "Our citizens and their families enjoy a quality of life that will not be disturbed or imperiled by outsiders who jeopardize their safety through the operation of 'quads' or other vehicles that do not belong on city streets."

Not only are the activities dangerous, but Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said it also puts a strain on department resources, which could be better used elsewhere.

"We will arrest suspects, tow their vehicles, seize their quads, and use our helicopter and special units to attack this plague and to achieve the goal of safeguarding our city."

Anyone with information about the transporting of illegal vehicles is encouraged to contact the Crime Stopper tip line at 1-877-NWK-TIPS or 1-877-NWK-GUNS.

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