Police in Florida have arrested a man on suspicion of vandalizing more than 140 electric scooters in his neighborhood.
The suspect, 59-year-old Randall Williams, was picked up by the police in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday after security camera footage appeared to show him cutting the brake lines on a number of scooters, all of them available for rent via various smartphone-based services.
Williams has since been charged with criminal mischief.
Following the vandalism of more than 140 electric scooters since April this year, police checked surveillance camera footage to try to catch the perpetrator.
A video (below) released by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department this week shows a man approaching two parked Lime scooters at night. He then spends about 20 seconds tampering with the rideables before walking off.
“Further investigation revealed a total of 20 scooters were located nearby with severed brake lines,” the police said in its report. Some of the scooters were also found with stickers placed over the QR codes needed to activate a ride.
According to the BBC, Williams was found carrying two pairs of wire cutters and wearing one glove when he was apprehended. Local reports said the police currently have no clear idea why the suspect carried out the alleged acts of vandalism.
Scootersharing companies in the Fort Lauderdale area had already been made aware of the vandalism and have been removing damaged scooters from the streets to protect the safety of riders. The incident is also a reminder to those who use such services to always test the brakes at the start of a journey.
Dockless scootersharing services operated by the likes of Lime, Bird, Spin, and Skip have been launching in numerous cities across the country — and beyond — over the last few years. While popular with those that use them, other city dwellers have long complained about the machines clogging up sidewalks, or of reckless riders posing a threat to safety.
The Fort Lauderdale episode is notable for the number of incidents linked to one suspect, but rentable scooters are being targeted by vandals across the nation. A recent report in the LA Times said many scooters are being damaged or destroyed “in disturbingly imaginative ways,” including being buried in sand or set on fire.
While the machines are helping many folks to speed across town more quickly and possibly ease traffic congestion through the decreased use of cars, their path to widespread acceptance is clearly a bumpy one.
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