St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne is warning ATV owners to be careful with their four-wheelers after seven of them were stolen in the last two months.
Champagne said that the thefts occurred an average of once a week this summer and that most of the ATVs stolen were used at out of town hunting leases. The thefts have occurred in Norco, Mimosa Park, Boutte, Ama, Hahnville, Paradis, Luing and Destrehan.
“Most of the stolen ATVs were located in rear fenced-in yards or under carports and a couple from sheds,” Champagne said. “It is obvious that the thieves are driving around actively searching for locations of the ATVs and return to steal them at opportune times, mostly during the middle of the night.”
In July, a Luling man was killed after crashing an ATV that had been reported stolen. Ronnie Brown, 20, was not wearing a helmet and flew off the vehicle after it struck a pole in St. John Parish.
The ATV that Brown was driving had been reported stolen in St. Charles.
Champagne said that most of the stolen ATVs are being taken outside of the parish or state and sold on the black market.
“Since there is no registration needed to operate them on farms or hunting leases, a viable market exists,” Champagne said.
Anyone who owns an ATV should lock the vehicle out of sight in a locked garage or shed, Champagne said.
Because they are routinely the target of theft, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office initiated an online registration program for all bicycles, ATVs and golf carts.
By visiting the Sheriff’s Office and registering the items, deputies and communications operators will be able to quickly determine the true owner of the property, according to Champagne.
“The mobility of these vehicles, combined with the high value, ease of disposal out of parish and lack of registration information contributes to this (theft) problem,” he said.
Champagne added that deputies on patrol often come across ATVs being either ridden or carried on trailers by suspicious individuals. But since there is no registration system available that allows police to determine the true owner, deputies are not able to follow up or take action when they have the opportunity.
To register a vehicle, bike or golf cart, visit www.stcharlessheriff.org and click on “Community Programs.”