DALLAS — Large groups. High speed. Reckless driving.
With the return of warm weather comes the return of large groups of stunt riders on Dallas toll roads and freeways.
An ongoing investigation by News 8 helped expose the danger of crashes and fatal wrecks. Now, law enforcement leaders say they are developing new weapons for the fight — including the possibility of seizing bikes from reckless riders.
Through the Texas Open Records Act, News 8 has obtained video from The North Texas Tollway Authority. The NTTA kept the recordings from 2009 because they know they have a problem — but don't know how to stop it.
One series of clips tracks one pack of motorcycle riders — from camera to camera — for 90 minutes.
Another shows the leader of the pack doing a high-speed "wheelie."
Still another documents a group of 40 bikers taking over the road.
"It's a few people that cause a giant problem,” said Sgt. Don Peritz, with the Dallas Sheriff's Office Traffic Division.
On one night, the video shows bikers nearly running a Hummer off the road.
There's also footage of a video crew in a pickup truck taping stunting riders, making one of hundreds of YouTube videos that riders post on the Web.
“It's clear to us that your stories brought a lot of public attention — at higher levels in our government — that there is a real problem here,” Peritz said.
Because of that attention, the Dallas Sheriff's Office is planning a region-wide, multi-agency crackdown on reckless riders.
The Sheriff's office will create and share a database of problem bikers... and their vehicles.
"Something that we've learned, and we continue to learn about these people, is the folks are really proud of their motorcycles," Peritz said. "Exotic paint jobs, extra equipment."
But if a reckless riders is going too fast to be caught by a patrol car — which is often the case — Peritz hopes to seize bikes in the database whenever they're found.
"I would imagine if someone had their motorcycle seized in a criminal offense, it would certainly keep them from committing other criminal offenses on that motorcycle,” Peritz said.
News 8 learned that finding those problem bikes and their riders may not be that difficult.
Two-hundred to 300 riders regularly gather at High Five Cycles on LBJ Freeway, and most are law-abiding citizens.
But reviewing the new NTTA videos, News 8 found an interesting pattern. These gatherings happen every Thursday night at 10 o'clock.
Most of the surveillance videos were taken on Thursday nights — just after 10 p.m.