Columnist Dan Rodricks talks to "Wheelie Wayne" Davis about the need for a dirt bike park in Baltimore. (Emma Patti Harris/Baltimore Sun video)
In a continuing attempt to crack down on dirt-bike riding on city streets, Baltimore police recently charged several riders, including a man considered the "godfather of the 12 O'Clock Boys," who they said was maintaining a "chop shop" for stolen motorcycles and parts.
Court records show 40-year-old Dawayne Davis, known as "Wheelie Wayne," was arrested earlier this month and charged with 15 counts, including theft scheme and removing or obliterating serial numbers on dirt-bike engines.
Police also used Instagram videos and footage from officers' body cameras to charge four other men with disorderly conduct and dirt-bike violations.
The charges against Davis stem from an August 2016 raid on his Southwest Baltimore home, where police said Davis was using his basement as a mechanic shop. Police found four dirt bikes "known to the detectives as the dirt bikes being used by [Davis] and his friends during their dirt bike violations on Baltimore City streets," Detective Jim Frauenhoffer wrote in charging documents.
Police said they found a bike with a stolen engine installed on it and a stolen four-wheeler, as well as other engines from bikes that had been reported stolen. Others had obliterated serial numbers.
Davis' attorney, Lawrence Rosenberg, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In August, 10 days after the raid, Davis told The Baltimore Sun's Dan Rodricks, in an interview on the "Roughly Speaking" podcast, that he had title to all but one of the vehicles, and they were properly registered and stored in compliance with city law.
Frauenhoffer wrote that Davis' shop "defines the definition of a chop shop."
"Throughout the shop were unidentifiable parts from stripped dirt bikes, from front forks, tires and rims, handle bars, brakes and brake levers, throttles, carburetors, and various fenders and side fairings," he wrote. "The majority of these unidentifiable parts were found alongside the stolen and obliterated engines."
Though the search took place in August, police did not apply for charges until Jan. 30. Davis was arrested Feb. 8 and was released after posting $25,000 bail.
In charging documents for four other riders, police said they watched a video uploaded to Instagram on Dec. 28, which showed riders performing tricks in the 3900 block of Edmondson Ave.
"None of the dirt bikes being ridden in the video displayed a registration plate, a brake light, a headlight, nor turn signals," Frauenhoffer wrote. "All individuals identified were unmasked and easily identified."
The detective paired the social media footage with body-camera footage from an officer who encountered the riders. Police said there was a crowd of people watching and filming the riders, who saw the officer and "attempted to taunt him in front of the crowd by pulling up in front of oncoming traffic, causing the traffic to come to a complete stop," the detective wrote.
Dirt-bike riding is a pastime in Baltimore but remains illegal. Police have tried various ways over the years to crack down on riders. In 2015, they shut down a popular Sunday morning riding spot near Druid Hill Park, and last summer formed a dirt-bike task force.
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A charge for riding a dirt bike in Baltimore carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. The riders charged last month face that charge, as well as a charge of disorderly conduct, which carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Davis is one of the city's best-known dirt-bike riders and has participated in efforts to establish a dirt-bike park in Baltimore.
"This is a billion-dollar business waiting to be tapped into," Davis told The Sun in August. "People all over the world know about the Baltimore dirt bikes and they would come here to watch us."
"We don't want confrontations with the police. ... We just want to ride."