In short, despite there being nothing much to stop them, most thieves do not even try to bother themselves with the rental e-scooters. There is too much hassle and effort involved and the risks are quite high. Those scooters are only moderately expensive at 400-500$, but their parts are ultimately not the best on the market. But why is that so?
Well, first of all, you would have noticed already that I said ”most thieves”. Which excludes all but a few people who do steal them on occasion. Let me explain how it works. As a summary of it all, both the electronics and the tracking system can be hacked.
The long story is that the process is a bit more complicated, granted we add the quality of the product and other such things in the equation. Most thieves buy hacking equipment from China for about 30-35$ and use it to overwrite the scooter’s protection features. However, this is not considered a major hustle by the major e-scooter companies.
A prime way some, but not all, e-scooter rental companies choose to not have their products stolen are locks. Specifically, they require the riders to use an integrated or a spot (as in parking spot) provided cable lock when the ride is finished. Some cable locks are even digitized and wired to specific networks which will automatically inform the authorities is you do not use an app to unlock it. Either that or wheels automatically lock if you do not use the specific rental company app.
And by using an app, one can easily be traced by the authorities. Mainly because the app requires some sort of authentication and also may retain the unique hardware ids of the phone. In theory, the phone can be marked as belonging to a thief. Sure, the e-scooter and/or the app can be hacked, but it requires much more time and effort than otherwise. Such skills are not so common among normal thieves and it is simply not worth it. Both from the aforementioned perspectives and from a cost perspective.
Most people who poses the skills of hacking an electric scooter without trace won’t do it.
Remember, those rental e-scooters you see in the big cities are often priced at an average of 500$ (without the accessories), but they are bought in bulk by rental companies (usually for less than 500$ per unit). And their reselling value is quite non-existent, actually, since they are easily traceable (few people would like to bother with the police) and they not the best on the market. They usually are used scooters with a lot of miles on board.
How many rental scooters are stolen?
Due to a booming need for short-distance transportation, e-scooters are more and more prevalent in the big cities. And with them, comes theft. As their numbers rise annually, so does the number of thefts worldwide. Sources speaking of stolen e-scooter are few and far in between, seeing as how the greatest problem regarding them is not theft, but vandalism. City administrations and private companies choose to remain silent on this matter. However, I have managed to fish out a few numbers regarding such thefts.
If you plan on buying one, check this link. (link to Amazon)
2. Use classic cable locks
A more proper manner of assuring your e-scooters safety is by using locks. And when we are speaking of e-scooters, there are numerous, quite efficient ways of assuring their safety, depending on your needs.
The first proper manner of securing your e-scooter is to use classic cable locks, similar to the ones used for bikes, although being much smaller than that variant. They are the first necessary step into the process of protecting your scooter. However, they are rudimentary protection mechanisms, easily cut/broken by someone who knows how they work.
They are cheap, yes, but why try to save 50$ for a lock when you are risking hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, if not thousands? I do not wish to sound biased, but there are other, more efficient methods, which I will address shortly.
If you are, however, interested in such a lock, check this link.
3. Use disk brake locks
The second method is that of using disk brake locks. I find them to be quite efficient, especially when I have little space to spare for the lock (no bag or jacket). However, I would still use it in addition to another solid locking mechanism, such as chain locks.
And they are quite cheap for what they do when compared to the value of what they protect. Not convinced? Check this one for reference.
Here is how they work:
4. Use chain locks
If your e-scooter wheels have spaces in them, a chain lock is another solid choice. In order to properly use a chain lock, you must first find an immovable object or a very heavy/solid one to act as an anchor. Then, secure it to said object, while trailing the chain through the wheel and, if possible, both of them.
Unlike bikes, the process of taking off e-scooters wheels is more complicated and requires you to place it on the side. Make it so that the chain is as short as it can be while placing it, if possible, at awkward angles, to screw with any attempts to quickly remove the wheels. That, or to hinder them trying to cut the chain.
Chain locks are, unlike normal ones, the best kind of locks since the chain part is of higher quality and is a ”tougher nut to crack”. How hard you ask? Well, a common tool a thief might employ to break a chain is a high-quality bolt cutter. Those things are undermined by the fact that it is obvious what the thief if doing, trying to cut the chain of an e-scooter at a shady hour of the night. This is more so applied to angle grinders and other loud and obnoxious tools.
Sure, it can still be done, but half of the defense is done by placing the scooter in a place where thieves cannot steal it without being seen.
E-scooter chain locks are usually the same ones you would use for bicycles and thus, they are more expensive than cheaply made ones. But they are truly worth it. Check this one for reference.
5. Use U locks
Similar to cable locks, U locks are a common choice of locking scooters. They are, however, more resistant to picking, drilling and damage. They are, however, harder to use since they are stiff, leaving them less mobility than their counterparts.
If you are interested in a good U lock, check this link. Also, here is a video with a few ways to properly lock it by using this type of lock:
6. Always remove the keys
It is common knowledge that thieves are opportunistic hunters, looking for the easiest pickings around and especially for unsuspecting victims. Even if you are nearby, never let your guard down.
If you have one of the (relatively) few models of e-scooters that use key ignition, always remember to take the keys with you, even if you will be close to it. The key ignition is an added protection feature, which if combined with another protection mechanism, will allow you to sleep well at night.
Most e-scooters do not have a key igniting system. However, if you would be interested in installing one, here is a helpful video.
Steps on how to lock it to protect against theft:
The most optimal way to properly lock your e-scooter is following those steps:
1. Choose a proper place to safely park/store the scooter. If all possible, try to avoid areas that are notorious for such thefts. Places that are well lit and that are constantly surveyed by cameras or by people should be your go-to spots to park it.
2. Secure it to an immovable object with one or more of the aforementioned locking mechanisms. Bike racks, ground anchors, light poles, thick trees (if the lock is long enough) are exceptionally good choices. Also, regarding stuff like the light poles, take care that they are long enough and/or that the top is wide and blocked. The last thing you would want is to have a crafty thief lift the scooter over them. Also, make sure that they are not easy to cut.
3. I said this before. Make sure that the lock/chain is as short as possible. This is due to the fact that it offers the would-be thief fewer access points on it to cut or, alternatively, to use the length to break the lock.
4. If all possible, use at least two separate locks. This will throw off most would-be thieves due to diversity and the requirement to break different locks and will give you more security. If, at all possible, install a well-hidden tracking device somewhere inside the motor/battery compartment or under the mud fender. This should help you and the authorities to track it down.