East Lyme Police arrested an 18-year-old for operating a dirt bike illegally after finding a video on TikTok.
Christopher Pond, 18, was charged with engaging police in a pursuit, operating a motor vehicle without a license, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 22.
East Lyme Police encountered Pond on July 6 after receiving complaints that a large group of dirt bikes/ATVs was riding through downtown Niantic.
Police also heard from Waterford Police that they had received calls of up to 40 bikes/ATVs operating erratically and heading towards East Lyme.
"Certainly it is concerning because if you look at downtown Niantic during the summer on an evening, there's a ton of people," said Chief Michael Finkelstein. "There are a lot of people that are walking, biking, driving slow, kids up and down the streets."
Once police arrived to the area where the dirt bikes were reported, they only saw one dirt bike. Police said that they tried to stop the operator, Pond, with lights and sirens, but he kept riding. Instead of pulling over, police said that Pond started taking cellphone video of police as he continued riding.
"He does it at a slow speed, but he is looking back trying to film the officer behind him," Finkelstein said.
Dash camera video provided by East Lyme Police shows that the officer stops following Pond after a little more than a minute.
"There are limitations with the statewide pursuit policy. It is a balance," Finkelstein said. "We are trying to do what we can to stop and identify individuals while at the same time not engage in what can be a reckless high speed pursuit."
Days after the incident, police officers found a video posted on TikTok. According to police, Pond posted the video that he recorded while police were trying to get him to stop. Police were able to positively identify him before the video was deleted from the social media platform. Pond turned himself in, police said.
"Anything that's on social media, we know that it's out there. Everyone should know it's out there," Finkelstein said.
Illegal dirt bikes operating on public roads is not a new problem, Finkelstein said, and it is not unique to East Lyme. New London Police are experiencing a similar issue.
“Obviously they do it knowing we are not going to chase them - so they are really emboldened by that fact," said Officer Chris White with the NLPD.
East Lyme's police chief said that this incident is a good example of different investigative tools police can use to stop the illegal riding on Connecticut roads.
"For whatever reason, there seems to be people that think driving recklessly and erratically through very congested areas is a fun activity when, ultimately, that really puts a lot of people in danger," Finkelstein said.
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