Editorial: Take extra security measures after rash of dirt bike, ATV thefts

Sometimes, sadly, just putting your belongings away isn't enough to keep them secure.

Last week, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office reported a recent spike in the theft of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles in the county this summer. Of the 13 separate incidents the Sheriff's Office has investigated since the start of 2016 involving the theft of 25 such vehicles, six have occurred in the last month and a half, including three in the month of July, accounting for 13 dirt bikes or ATVs stolen in the past six weeks.


Most have been taken from outbuildings such as sheds or detached garages away from the primary residence.

Crime is generally low in Carroll County, and the bulk of the crime the county does see comes in the form of property crimes like these. Nearly three-fourths of all criminal activity in the county is related to theft, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Because of those low crime rates here, especially in more rural parts of the county where many of these recent thefts have taken place, we can become blase to taking simple security measures. We'd all like to have the expectation that people aren't going to break into our homes, storage sheds or garages and steal our property; unfortunately, no one is immune from such behavior.

That means, fair or not, the onus falls on the owner to make sure property is secure from theft. The Sheriff's Office suggests, when possible, storing dirt bikes and ATVs in well-lit areas attached to the house.

When that's not possible, people should consider adding floodlights to areas where these kinds of vehicles — or any valuables — may be stored in detached buildings, and consider additional locks on the vehicles themselves.

Having a recent photo of the item and any associated vehicle identification numbers filed also can't hurt in case a dirt bike or ATV is stolen, and can speed up the reporting process for police.

These particular thefts came even when owners followed the common-sense steps of putting personal property inside overnight and locking it up. So it should also serve as a reminder to those who still leave less-expensive items like bicycles or tools out in the open on front lawns or open garages, valuables inside cars in plain sight and automobiles unlocked overnight.

In the summer months especially, crimes of opportunity tend to rise.

No amount of security systems can make you immune to theft. But taking a few simple steps can limit opportunities for thieves to steal your property.