A group of Auckland motorcyclists who blocked motorways and terrorised motorists over the weekend have been causing havoc for years, a resident says - and are guilty of more than just dangerous driving.
The group, made up of dozens of members, was filmed engaging in a range of illegal behaviour on east Auckland roads last Saturday - including riding without helmets, intimidating drivers, doing wheelies and burnouts, riding unregistered dirt bikes and blocking traffic.
The illegal activity drew the ire of Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who told Newshub the footage represented "mass lawlessness" and would not be tolerated in the Super City.
But Colin Clinch, a Grey Lynn resident who sells fruit in east Auckland, says members of the group have been riding dangerously and intimidating motorists since well before Waitangi weekend.
He has known about the motorcyclists for about two years, but Clinch's first in-person run-in with them came in late 2019, when they allegedly robbed his strawberry stand in the suburb of Flat Bush.
"A lot of people have been complaining to the police… You never feel safe when they're around, you feel intimidated by them. They're a young group of guys who have no respect for the law," he told Newshub.
"The first time I complained, they were on Stancombe Rd up in [Barry Curtis] Park. There was a big group of them.
"A week later I was selling strawberries in the park and they stole my money bin. I had a trestle table out and as the whole group of them came past, one of them picked up the money bin and drove off."
Clinch reported the robbery to police, but the incidents kept coming.
"They were on Cascade Rd, doing the same procedure as they did on the motorway [over the weekend]," Clinch told Newshub.
"They drive down the footpath, down the middle of the road on one wheel. They don't wear a helmet, they don't have a registered motorbike, they're intimidating the public.
"They're overruling the regulations of the New Zealand Government… We have a group of thugs that are saying to the law 'go to hell, we'll just continue doing what we want to do'."
Clinch says he's witnessed or knows of several other incidents - including one outside the Paradice Ice Skating rink in Botany, and another in which a motorcyclist allegedly rode down a footpath outside an east Auckland retirement home, nearly hitting residents.
Inspector Kay Lane, Counties Manukau Road Policing Manager, told Newshub illegal dirt bike activity has been an ongoing problem in the area for some time.
"Last year police received a number of complaints relating to unlawful dirt bike activity, with reports including riders riding unlicensed bikes, not wearing helmets, riding on the wrong side of the road and disrupting traffic," she said.
"One of the difficulties police often face is by the time a complaint is received, the dirt bike rider has left that location and is no longer present."
Police say they have been able to take action against illegal riders in the past. They note that in April 2020, eight bikes were ordered off the road and one was impounded after an incident in Mangere East's Āorere Park. Each rider was also forbidden from riding.
Insp Lane says one person has been charged in relation to the antics over Waitangi weekend, and police are currently carrying out a large number of enquiries to identify others.
She says further prosecutions are likely.
"We do not tolerate dangerous or reckless driving behaviour that puts the safety of road users at risk," Insp Lane said.
"The actions of the group of riders involved are dangerous and disappointing and show a blatant disregard for their own safety as well as the safety of other motorists.
"The organisers of this event also need to take accountability for ensuring such events are safe and lawful, and we will be looking to discuss this with them."
On Monday, Mayor Goff told Newshub public cooperation would be key to holding the riders to account, and called on the community to dob in those involved.
"This is not acceptable behaviour - it will result in deaths. We want action as quickly as possible and we can help the police to do that," he said.
Police say members of the public can help by providing the names, addresses and bike descriptions of the offenders. Videos, CCTV footage and photos that may help police identify riders can be uploaded online at 105.police.govt.nz.