21 charged in Chicago carsharing heist; 100+ cars stolen, many still missing

daimler car2go car sharing benefits

Hailed as one of the largest carsharing companies in the world, Car2Go was founded to let urban-dwelling motorists get from place to place without needing to own a car. The app-based service has worked relatively well since its launch, but it took an unexpected turn for the worse when thieves stole over 100 Car2Go vehicles in Chicago. So far, 21 people have been charged for their alleged involvement in a scheme to hijack the cars and use them in various crimes.

The thefts were first reported to the Chicago Police Department earlier this week, and an investigation was launched shortly after. At first, investigators thought thieves hacked into the mobile app to make off with over 100 Car2Go vehicles without being detected. Police said the company’s software was somehow involved in the scheme, leading some to believe that it was hacked or manipulated in some way. However, Car2Go quickly shot down those reports.

“Clarification: We were not hacked,” the company wrote on Twitter. “This is an instance of fraud, isolated to Chicago, and we are currently working with law enforcement. None of our member’s personal or confidential information has been compromised.” It added that no other market has reported missing cars, and that its service continues to work as intended everywhere else in America and abroad.

The company stressed no personal or confidential information belonging to users was compromised. In response to the issue, Car2Go paused its services in the Chicago area while it sorts out the issue. The service remains down as of Friday, April 19.

“The Chicago Police Department was alerted by a car rental company that some of its vehicles may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means through a mobile app,” a police spokesperson said in a statement. “Due to the information provided by the company, numerous vehicle have been recovered and persons of interest are being questions. The Chicago Police Department is working with the company to determine whether there are any other vehicles whose locations cannot be accounted for. The investigation is ongoing.”

Chicago police started questioning people of interest about the thefts on Wednesday, April 17. As of Thursday night, there are 21 people in custody for their alleged roles in the scheme to steal Car2Go vehicles. They’re all facing misdemeanor charges, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, though 19-year-old Angelo Patterson was arrested driving one of the stolen cars and is facing multiple felonies. Police are still working to recover all of the missing vehicles, which are equipped with GPS trackers.

Car2Go is owned by Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, so its Chicago fleet includes the Smart Fortwo, the Mercedes-Benz CLA, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. The Chicago Police Department hasn’t revealed how many examples of each model went missing, but officials have hinted the thieves preferred Mercedes’ compact cars over the pocket-sized Smart. No one has commented on precisely how many cars were stolen, and how many remain unaccounted for remains guarded, but police officials said most of the cars recovered were found on Chicago’s West Side.

Updated on April 19, 2019: Added the latest information about the missing cars.

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