Marines confiscate bikes, hand out tickets

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jan 18, 2016

SANTEE -- Local Marines ticketed a group of cyclists, then told them it was for their own good.

"You look at this and it's really cool to be out here," said cyclist Mark Moore.

Moore is an avid cyclist and goes to Sycamore Trails often. "The trail here is fun," he said.

Moore says he knows some of the land is private. "This area, if you were to ask 100 mountain bikers, I don't think one would say, 'oh yeah, you can't ride there,'" he said.

On Saturday, he and seven others in his group were stopped by military police. "They had guns, they had tasers," he said.

On GoPro video, you can hear one of the cyclists in the group say, "There is not one stinkin' sign even remotely close. That's why we ride it."

Moore claims no one in the group was trespassing on government land.

"As far as we were concerned, the trail we were on was totally legal," Moore said.

The Marine Corps ticketed everyone in the group, except for two 14-year-old boys, and confiscated their bikes.

Moore said, "It says basically we were trespassing and this is the evidence property custody receipt."

Moore says he wishes the Marines would have only given them a warning. "For us, it seemed absurd with all the problems in the world -- they are coming after mountain bikers," he said.

The Marine Corps released this statement:

The commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the military police take great interest and caution in the issue of hikers and mountain bikers coming onto East Miramar in unauthorized areas. We have weapons training ranges located on East Miramar, which are the site of training more than 9,000 Marines on annual rifle and pistol qualification. There is a very real safety hazard for anyone that may come onto the federal property and the trails in question place those who trespass onto the base in potentially life-threatening danger.  

MCAS Miramar has diligently worked in alerting the community of off-limits areas and have posted signs and warnings across the government property to further increase awareness. Similarly, Military Police Officers patrol the area regularly. Anyone who comes onto East Miramar, knowingly or not, may be federally cited, face possible fines and have their bikes impounded until the citations are adjudicated.

Over the past weekend, our military police officers had an increased presence in the area and cited approximately 50 individuals and impounded more than 45 bicycles and 3 motorcycles. The impounded vehicles will be returned to the owners once the citations have been adjudicated.

It is imperative that anyone who bikes on the eastern border of the base understand that this is part of an active military training area. We have and will continue to work with community organizations, such as the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, to help educate and deter people from coming onto the base illegally.