Retired Couple Battles Four Wheeler Troubles - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Retired Couple Battles Four Wheeler Troubles

They built their dream retirement home on a peaceful piece of property in the Kiln. But a Hancock County couple's serenity has been rudely interrupted by some noisy, unwanted visitors.

And they're not alone in facing what's become a serious concern in many rural areas.

Bayou LaTare headwaters offer a perfect place to settle down.

"This is our retirement home. We've put everything into it. And we plan to live here," said Paul Vegas, while overlooking his 40 acres of land.

He and wife Lynn didn't plan on ATV riders using the creek as an off road course.

"We've been battling it since we first moved out here about a year and a half ago. And it's just gotten worse, it's escalated. We put up signs first along the creek bed. And we've tried to talk to them and tell them," Vegas explained.

Some riders obeyed the "No Trespass" signs, but others scoffed at the warnings and the rope fence Vegas strung across the creek. They continued to ride the creek and leave their litter. Then, things turned ugly.

"They all came right to the fence then they stopped and threatened us, threatened to tear the fence down. Said they were going to clean out everything, there would be nothing left for tomorrow. And we took pictures, my wife did. And they charged up the creek at her. She had to dodge to get out of the way," said the 75-year-old retiree.

Lynn Vegas snapped pictures of the perpetrators; she wielding a camera and her husband a shotgun, which he fired to ward off the brazen visitors.

"For the most part, it's been a nuisance. But I feel like now it's become a serious, serious issue. And I was fearful and we're fearful right now, at a time we shouldn't have to fear for our safety or our property," said Lynn Vegas.

Wildlife officer Andy Elchos told WLOX News four wheelers trespassing is a persistent problem. It often happens wherever there's a waterway. Four wheel riders will often drive the length of a creek or river bed with no regard for property rights.

Paul Vegas doesn't want violence. But he's intent on keeping the creek riders off his property.

"We're just determined. We're going to go as far as we have to to stop it," he said.

Vegas has signed charges against the four wheel riders he's been able to identity. Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garbor says his office receives frequent complaints about four wheel riders trespassing on private property.

By Steve Phillips

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