Segway Scooters

Are Electric Scooters Easily Stolen?

If you’ve been out in Brisbane in the past five years, you know that using scooters for commuting grows in popularity every year. Given how the number of people buying an electric scooter is expected to increase over the next 10 years, you might even have been riding one yourself. 

Source: Tekkplay

Commuter electric scooters have been available for rent in Brisbane since 2018, and since then, they’ve become one of the most popular ways for people to get around in cities. These days, unless electric scooters for commuters are illegal, like in New South Wales, it’s fairly common to see scooters in bike racks or nestled into a city parking spot.

Unfortunately, as electric scooters become more popular with everyday citizens, they’ve also become more popular with potential thieves. Scooter theft data isn’t readily available in Australia, but when police feel the need to put out reminders, as happened in 2022 in Brisbane, that’s a sign that the threat is real.

As with most forms of theft, the best way to head off would-be thieves and prevent your electric scooter from getting stolen is by taking a proactive approach. There’s no foolproof method that protects your scooter, but there are several things you can do to limit your risk of being a target.

So, are electric scooters easily stolen?

Unfortunately, yes, it doesn’t take much effort to steal an electric scooter. Scooter theft has been on the rise for years now, and it’s because they’re among the easiest methods of transportation for someone to swipe. All it takes is a few seconds of leaving your scooter unattended, and a nefarious character can walk off with it.

Even if you take security precautions, such as putting a padlock on your electric scooter, that’s not a sure thing. When Brisbane police sent out cautions to riders in 2022, they noted many thefts of scooters locked to bike racks. But the thieves simply used bolt cutters to remove the lock and walked off with the scooter. 

How common is electric scooter theft?

In large cities, the problems are getting worse each year. In Los Angeles in the United States, 640 scooters were swiped in 2022, roughly triple the amount of thefts from the previous year. In Poland, roughly one out of every 10 riders sees their scooter stolen. As electric scooter laws become more favourable to riders, criminals also see opportunities.

Source: Scooter Guide

Why are electric scooters easily stolen? It’s usually because many owners think it won’t happen to them and allow themselves to get lax with security. But the stats show that determined crooks are showing up prepared for the job, meaning basic security isn’t enough anymore.

Why aren’t rental scooters stolen often?

If you live in a city where electric scooter laws permit riders, you’ve probably seen several Bird or Lime scooters available for rent. You might think these would be some of the most common ones that people steal. But there are a few reasons that thieves tend to leave these scooters alone.

First, Bird or Lime scooters come with GPS trackers installed, which makes it easy for the companies to contact authorities and get assistance if any e-scooter gets stolen. Second, these are electric scooters for heavy riders, and by the time anyone makes a move to swipe one, they’ve put hundreds to thousands of miles on their wheels. 

By comparison, when people leave scooters outside, they’re usually the only ones who’ve ever ridden it.

When people steal something, they’re looking for high value with low effort. A scooter with maximum security and high mileage is the exact opposite, making it far less of a target for would-be thieves. When it comes to these types of scooters, electric scooter helmets and electric scooter accessories are far more vulnerable, as they won’t have depreciated in value.

How are electric scooters easily stolen?

It sounds ridiculous, but one of the easiest ways that scooters get stolen or lost is that people simply leave their electric scooters unattended. On a busy day, it’s easy to leave scooters outside for a few minutes absent-mindedly, but that’s all a thief needs to execute a scooter theft. Like most thieves, scooter thieves pay close attention to any easy targets and wait for someone to let their guard down.

The other way thieves steal your scooter is by coming prepared with the right tools for the task. You might think a simple padlock protects your scooter from theft, but that’s not enough of a deterrent. In the time it takes to leave your electric scooter for a quick errand, experienced thieves can take a pair of bolt cutters and be gone before you return. 

Disc locks aren’t a sure deterrent because some thieves don’t care if the scooter’s locked. If the wheels don’t move, they can simply sell it for parts.

What factors make electric scooters vulnerable?

Are electric scooters easily stolen when they’re left in the same place every day? Yes, they are because thieves get wise to the location. When thieves decide on a target, they look for anything that’s going to make it easy to steal and hard to track down. 

If they see you leave your e-scooter in the same spot every day, they’ll likely take a look at the area. If they see no video surveillance in the area and no tracking devices installed, all they have to do is wait for you to leave it unattended. Even if you use a difficult type of lock to break, they’ll have several hours to hack any and all locking mechanisms.

In New South Wales, electric scooter laws don’t help the situation. That’s because electric scooters for commuters are still illegal in that part of Australia. Unfortunately, that means you can’t register them with the police or even put in an insurance claim in case of e-scooter theft. Finally, e-scooters are commonly left at bike racks, which offer little security. If criminals think nobody’s around, they’ll march off with what they consider an easy target.

Why are electric scooters such a target for thieves?

It’s pretty simple: the value is high, and the opportunity costs are low. Most thieves don’t want to bother themselves with dealing with antitheft alarms, GPS tracking or other proven deterrents against criminals. They want to go for the vulnerable yet valuable items, and electric scooters fit that bill. 

Source: Brisbane Times

Most electric scooters in Australia cost around $1,600, not a bad cash value for a few minutes to an hour of work. Even electric scooters for kids cost a few hundred dollars, which most petty criminals consider worthwhile. With scooters only rising in popularity, there will always be a market for scooters, electric scooter accessories, electric scooter lights and other parts.

Plus, most people don’t put up strong deterrents to theft. Most people know to lock their escooters before leaving them, but most people only put up one type of lock before they leave it unattended. If thieves have the right tool, they can break the lock in just a few minutes and steal your scooter.

How can I protect my electric scooter from theft?

You can’t completely prevent scooter theft if you leave it unattended, but you can lower your risk of being a victim. Here are a few things you can do to keep your electric scooter safe.

  • Take it with you: There’s one guaranteed way to keep your scooter safe: bring it with you wherever you go. Unlike electric bikes, most electric scooters are both light enough and portable enough to take indoors and store safely. If you can take your scooter inside, you’ll never have to worry about a thief getting to it while you’re away.
  • Use multiple quality locks: Cable locks, disc locks, chain locks and folding locks are all popular ways to deter thieves. However, because thieves often carry tools to break one lock, it’s a good idea to use two different locks on your e-scooter. If you can force thieves to slow down and use multiple tools, they might decide your scooter isn’t worth the effort.
  • Park in well-lit areas: Where do electric scooters get stolen? Darker areas where thieves can operate without attracting attention. If you use a parking spot or bike rack in a well-lit area to store your scooter, you can at least increase the chances of someone spotting a thief in action. When would-be thieves think they’ll get caught, they look for easier targets.
  • Register your scooter with police: In areas where electric scooter laws don’t allow riders in public areas, like New South Wales, this won’t be very helpful. But in Queensland, you can register your scooter with the police right after you secure your licence. This can make it easier for police to spot your scooter if lost or stolen. Failing that, remembering the serial number can at least let authorities know your scooter is stolen property. If anyone spots that serial number, there’s a chance it can be returned to you.
  • Install an antitheft alarm or GPS tracking: These devices offer two main benefits. They can help you and authorities find your scooter if it’s lost or stolen, and they can convince thieves it’s not worth the effort. 

Whenever stealing a scooter looks like more trouble than it’s worth, most criminals find an easier target. If they know the police can track them well after they swipe your scooter because of an antitheft device or a GPS, that’s not worth the effort.

What can I do if my electric scooter is stolen?

In most cases, the best thing you can do is go to the police. If you’ve got identifying features on your scooter or a GPS tracker available, that can go a long way toward helping police recover it. 

If you have an app that can lock your wheels, hitting that kill switch can help prevent a would-be thief from riding away on your scooter. However, if the criminal wants to sell the scooter for parts, a brake lock isn’t going to be much help.

As with most things, the best thing you can do is take a proactive approach to keeping your scooter safe; it’s much easier to deter would-be thieves before they get a hold of your scooter than to track them down after they’ve made off with it.

Investing in prevention

When most people consider electric scooter accessories, they’re thinking of phone holders and electric scooter helmets. Cable locks, GPS trackers and anti-theft devices aren’t the first things that come to mind, but they make a big difference. A few dollars of prevention today can mean the protection of about $1,500 worth of an electric scooter later.

Summing up

Are electric scooters easily stolen? Yes, but they don’t have to be. As with most things, criminals who steal e-scooters are looking for as easy of a target as possible. 

By taking scooter security seriously and putting as many deterrents as possible between a thief and your scooter, you’ll make most criminals give up and move on to someone who isn’t as vigilant with their scooter security.

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