BRADFORD COUNTY, Fla. – The Bradford County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday returned more than a dozen dirt bikes and four-wheelers to their rightful owners after the off-road vehicles were recovered in a theft ring investigation in Florida.
The Sheriff’s Office said it got involved in the case in July after seven dirt bikes stolen from the High Springs area of Alachua County were located in Bradford County. The Sheriff’s Office eventually found an additional 13 vehicles.
“It is nice to be able to call them up and say, ‘We’ve got it -- your stuff. We’ve got your bike,'” Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith said Wednesday. “That was some of the best Christmas for some of these victims, knowing that they were getting their stuff back.”
Wednesday marked a special day for some of the owners of the vehicles -- including Bradford County resident Wade Meadows and his son, Zachary -- as they were able to pick up their property from the Sheriff’s Office. It had been months since the father and son were able to ride together after their four-wheeler and dirt bike were stolen.
“It’s amazing because, normally, you don’t hear of them getting your stuff back,” Meadows said. “Normally, it’s pretty much done and over with and they are painted and scrapped and sent off to different states.”
In all, 44 dirt bikes and ATVs were stolen in Florida, including some in Alachua, Clay, Bradford, Duval and Nassau counties. More than a dozen agencies across the state were involved in the investigation. Over the last several months, 27 stolen ATVs and dirtbikes, worth nearly $140,000 in total, were recovered from what investigators said turned out to be a theft ring in North Florida.
Investigators said they arrested four men from Starke in connection with 23 separate incidents: Troy Harris, Demetrius Martin, Jamarian McNeal and Dennis Jackson III. Combined, the suspects face a total of 117 charges.
“Very, very relieved. Depression started setting in because I figured I’m still making payments on it and I was going to make payments on something I didn’t have,” Meadows said. “It was wonderful to get it back.”
Smith said his agency’s investigation was completed, but if any additional leads come out of the case, investigators will follow up.