WICOMICO CO., Md. - For the adventurous, the all-terrain vehicle is a recreational machine. But for some, it's also a target.
"I don't think that it's people setting out to do burglary, it's they're setting out to acquire an ATV, but they are doing burglary to do it," said Sgt. David Owens of WBI.
In the most recent statistics provided to WMDT, last year, 25 percent of vehicle thefts on the Eastern Shore were in Wicomico County. Vehicle thefts are made up of any motor vehicle including cars, ATVs and motorcycles. The total vehicle thefts for 2012 were 108.
According to Owens, most victims of ATV thefts are unaware they could be targeted.
"They might not even know it right away," said Owens.
Bud Horner, owner of Horner Honda agrees and says "if [the ATV is in the] back in a shed or barn they might not see it as often."
Besides adding a surveillance camera system, there are other ways to protecting yourself, according to Owens.
First, lock up your storage area, but also lock down the vehicle itself. Second, check in. If you only off-road once in awhile and your ATV is stored in an outdoor shed, don't wait until you want to ride to see if you still have your $1,000-plus toy. Third, record your vehicle identification number.
In Maryland, the state issues permits, keeping a record of that number to make it easier to recover the vehicle if stolen.
"Taking the opportunity to secure them again and a facility to secure them properly is the only way to do it," said Owens.
If the criminal is fond, state's attorney Matt Maciarello says they won't go unpunished. According to Maciarello, charges vary on each crime, depending on the severity of the theft, past criminal history and cost of the vehicle.
A theft over $100,000 is a felony in Maryland and the person could be looking at a maximum sentence of 25 years. A theft under $100,000 but more than $10,000 is still a felony and the thief could face up to 15 years of jail time. If the ATV is worth more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, the convicted felon could be in jail for 10 years.
But those aren't the only charges. Maciarello says if the ATV was in a garage attached to a home, it's consider a felony and burglary in theft 1st degree. If the vehicle was in a shed, it's a felony burglary in the 2nd degree. The maximum sentences are 20 and 15 years, respectively.
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