Deputies Crack Down on Destructive ATV Use - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/31/06

Deputies Crack Down on Destructive ATV Use

Betty Zipperer surveys her damaged property. Betty Zipperer surveys her damaged property.

ATV may stand for "all terrain vehicle," but in Effingham County that doesn't mean you can ride on any terrain you want. The Effingham County Sheriff's Department says more people are riding their ATVs on private property without permission. And now law enforcement is cracking down.

"This is incident after incident," said property owner Betty Zipperer. "They came in every time and they would go further up and make a new place and tear up another spot."

Zipperer has dealt with ATV riders destroying her property for years and she is sick of it. And she's not alone. So is the Effingham County Sheriff's Department. They get tons of calls about irresponsible ATV riders.

"Every time they try and go on somebody's property, they are tearing up the land or tearing up gates trying to get into the property," said Chief Deputy Richard Bush. "They just have no care about getting on the other people's property."

So what happens if you're caught driving an ATV on private property? You could end up paying a $1,000 fine, and that doesn't include the property damage that the vehicles can cause.

That's been a law for a while, but deputies are cracking down. "ATVs are made to ride on your own private property," said Bush.

Betty Zipperer's private property is her pride and joy and she doesn't want it destroyed. She even took matters into her own hands recently. With the help of the sheriff's department, she sat in the woods near a field and watched four teenagers on ATVs tear up her property.

"It was very heartbreaking," she said. "It hurt me worse to have to catch them, for them to have to be caught."

Those teenagers could end up paying a thousand dollars to fix Zipperer's farm fields. Zipperer hopes they learn their lesson and learn to respect people's property.

So far this year, the Effingham County Sheriff's Department has responded to more than 65 complaints of ATV riders destroying private property.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley, bkelley@wtoc.com

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