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Sheriff warns snowmobile riders

A rash of vandalism and trespassing complaints regarding snowmobiles has prompted the sheriff’s office to warn riders they could face criminal charges if they don’t abide by state guidelines.

The constant snowfall since November has resulted in a surge of snowmobile use and more complaints about people riding them through private property, said Lt. Dustin White, road patrol supervisor at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Gene Kelly didn’t have a specific total available, but said the office has been taking complaints every week.

Monte and Mary Conley have made two complaints to the sheriff’s office this month — including one last Sunday — regarding damage to their property on Mechanicsburg Road in Moorefield Twp. The snowmobiles have left several scrape marks and divots across their driveway.

They have placed “Stop” and “No Trespassing” signs along the route the snowmobilers have used, but each time someone has stolen the sign.

“The snowmobiles think they can run across your property and they want to do damage to your driveway,” Monte Conley said. “It makes me very unhappy.”

The couple spent $12,000 repaving their driveway last summer, which they said makes the damage even more distressing. The spiked treads of the vehicles also leave muddy ruts across their lawn.

“If they want to pay to have our driveway fixed after they cross it, I’d be more than happy to take their check,” Mary Conley said. “Otherwise, just be respectful and stay off of other people’s property.”

Snowmobiles fall under Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle regulations, and must be registered with the state. While licensed drivers are permitted to ride along roadways and within easements, White said that doesn’t include private property. In addition to traffic violations, those driving across private property can face misdemeanor trespassing and vandalism charges.

“If you don’t have permission to be on their property, you shouldn’t be on their property,” he said.

The most difficult thing, White said, is to catch violators because drivers are able to travel off-road, unlike deputies.

The Conleys are considering adding landscaping or fencing to keep violators out, but they worry those items would get damaged, too.

“I hope sooner or later they’ll catch them,” Monte Conley said.

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