Parents are being warned that they could be prosecuted if off-road vehicles are ridden illegally.
The warning comes as Christmas approaches, when many people think of buying off-road bikes, quad bikes, scooters and other small machines that have petrol engines as well as mini motos and go peds as presents.
The off-road vehicles can be seized if ridden without insurance or on land where it is not permitted, under the Road Traffic Act 1988, which could leave youngsters disappointed.
In 2013 so far, officers from the Cleveland Police motorcycle section have seized more than 40 off-road vehicles, with more being seized by district officers.
Inspector Lee Rukin, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Many people can be unaware of the responsibilities and laws around owning off-road vehicles. We would encourage those who are intending to purchase an off-road bike, a quad bike, a mini moto or go ped to do their background research first.
“The most common misconceptions are that they can be ridden on a road or on public land and that no insurance is needed. This is not true. You need insurance when in control of a motor vehicle in a public place. Parents could be prosecuted for permitting their child to ride on a road or public place, which could affect their own car or bike insurance.
“The only place where off-road vehicles can be lawfully ridden is private land with the direct permission of the land owner or at an organised and supervised off-road centre. We don’t want to disappoint any children, but if we need to seize an off-road vehicle due to it being ridden illegally then we will.
“Obviously we would also advise that riders wear full protective clothing at all times and a helmet which fits correctly and is securely fastened.”
In Cleveland, complaints regarding off-road bikes can include anything from damage being caused to crops and green belts, noise pollution which is sometimes at antisocial hours, stolen bikes and the general risk of danger to members of the public and animals. In August this year, the Force received nearly 400 calls regarding the anti-social use of off-road vehicles.