Groups of masked teens have been terrorizing York over the summer months, recklessly riding dirt bikes and ATVs through traffic, harassing other motorists and in one case, disrupting a charity softball tournament, according to police and several witnesses and victims.
"These individuals are a nuisance, they're causing safety hazards and destroying the quality of life for the individuals who live in the city's neighborhoods," York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said Thursday. He added that police suspect most of the bikes are stolen, and none of them are street legal.
The chief said some arrests have been made, including at least one juvenile. No details were available on the arrests.
Kahley said he has heard of similar groups running roughshod in larger cities along the East Coast, and now, it has trickled down to York.
"The Police thank the general public for calling 911 and reporting this illegal behavior and encourage them to continue to come forward to help us stop this activity," the city posted on its Facebook page.
"Mayor Bracey stated. 'We will not tolerate this criminal behavior that threatens the quality of life for our city residents and our Police Officers will be vigilant in prosecuting the individuals responsible'," the post stated.
Kahley said that police would continue to investigate, but that "We want to do it in a manner that's safe to the public, so that we're not chasing these individuals through the city."
That's why the public's help is needed, he said, to develop suspects and find out where the motorcycles are being stored.
Softball tournament disrupted
About two weeks ago, a group of teens on motorcycles disrupted a softball tournament at York's Memorial Park Complex. The tournament was hosted by Avery Marie Against AFLP, a nonprofit organization.
Billy Hagarman, 28, of Dover Township, was a participant in the tournament and later became a victim, he said.
He's seen the kids on bikes come through the park before, but they had never really caused any trouble.
"This time, they decided they were going to ride through the (baseball) fields," he said. "They almost hit a player in the outfield."
Then, a rider Hagarman described as the group's leader, pulled onto a bed of stones -- located near some bleachers -- and revved his bike, kicking the stones up. The volley of stones struck some of the children in the stands, Hagarman said. He had enough.
"I stood in front of him (one of the riders) and actually grabbed him and the handlebars ... as the back tire was going over my foot," he said. "We took his bike from him."
Police later caught the teen, and now Hagarman is listed as a victim in the case in juvenile court, he said.
Targeting Harley riders
York resident Tammy Mankey said she was driving through the city the night of Aug. 19, in the area of East Princess and South Sherman streets, when she saw a group of masked riders -- five on motorcycles and one on an ATV -- target two Harley-Davidson riders.
Mankey said the teens buzzed around the Harley riders, nearly causing one of them to roll his bike. She followed the group and saw that the Harley riders had pulled into a parking lot and the masked group had them surrounded.
She pulled her truck into the lot, shielding the Harley riders.
"I had two German Shepherds and two Rotties hanging their heads out the windows," of her truck, she said. The masked group rode off.
Mankey said she took photos and has given them to police. She urged others who might know them to let authorities know.
"Somebody's got to know who they are," she said.
Anyone with information is asked to call York City Police at 717-846-1234 or 717-849-2219. Anonymous tips can be called in to York County Crime Stoppers at 755-TIPS or sent via text message to "Yorktips" at 847-411 (tip411).
This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.