Published August 20. 2013 2:00PM Updated August 21. 2013 6:50PM
Waterford - Town police made six arrests over the past two days in connection with the attempted thefts of motorcycles and ATVs, most recently Tuesday morning after a homeowner tried to detain one of the suspects.
Police said a group of thieves was targeting dirt bike-style motorcycles and ATVs stored in backyard sheds.
At 1:30 a.m. Monday, police said, residents of Devonshire Drive reported hearing people in their backyards. When police arrived, they chased several men into the woods where one officer was kicked in the chest by a passenger on a dirt bike.
The dirt bike crashed, and a brief foot chase ended with the arrest of a 17-year-old juvenile and 19-year-old Yojang Torres of 168 Laurel Drive, New London. Torres was charged with second-degree criminal trespass, third-degree assault and assault on a police officer.
Police were out again at 2:15 a.m. Tuesday after people on Robin Street reported hearing noises in their backyard and found several men in a shed. Police said that a woman who confronted and attempted to detain the suspects was struck by one of the men. Sgt. Timothy Silva, who was off duty, came to her aid and detained one of the men, police said.
Later, an officer spotted a car fleeing the area of Fog Plain Road and stopped it near New London High School. The driver, a male known only by the street name "Yo Yo," fled. The other three men in the car were arrested.
As a result of the Tuesday incident, police arrested: Manuel Ortiz, 18, of 187 Huntington St., New London; Emanuel Rivera, 19, of 130 Cedar Grove, New London; Steven Colon, 19, of 197 Montauk Ave., New London; and a 17-year-old juvenile. All were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, second-degree criminal trespass, third-degree burglary and second-degree criminal mischief. Colon additionally was charged with third-degree assault.
Ledyard police Lt. Brett Mahoney said his department is working with others locally to determine whether the men are linked to other thefts.
"We have had several thefts of ATVs and dirt bikes that have occurred very recently with the same M.O.," Mahoney said. "It's not only us. Other area police departments have thefts as well."
New London Deputy Chief Peter G. Reichard said city police are investigating several recent reports of stolen off-road and street motorcycles.
Police are asking residents to be watchful, to listen to their dogs, to keep exterior lights on and to lock sheds and trailers.
Waterford police also are trying to determine Yo Yo's real name and address. Anyone with information regarding his name or where stolen motorcycles or ATVs may be located should contact Waterford police on Facebook via direct message, by phone at (860) 442-9451, or by emailing investigating Officer Surdo at firstname.lastname@example.org. All contacts will be kept confidential.
During Monday's incident, a red motorcycle suspected to have been stolen was seized. A photo is posted on the department's Facebook page. The motorcycle will be returned with proof of ownership.