The first rule of robbing a bank in 2019 is apparently not to use your credit card to rent the getaway car. According to Austin, Texas newspaper the Austin American-Statesman, 19-year-old Luca Mangiarano was charged yesterday with robbery by threat after showing up to a BBVA Compass bank on Austin’s Sixth Street and demanding money via a note handed to a teller. He was caught, however, because he allegedly used an Uber-owned Jump electric scooter as his means of escape after leaving with the cash.
The Statesman reports that Austin police contacted Uber about the robbery, and the company handed over Mangiarano’s name, address, and credit card number in relation to his renting of a Jump scooter seen in video footage, a scooter the police had reason to believe featured the suspect. Police were able to further verify Mangiarano’s connection by tracing the scooter from the scene of the crime to outside his apartment, as well as using data from his cellphone provider that indicated he was in the area during the time of the robbery.
So while not the smartest move obviously, the scooter-related arrest illustrates a couple important points about privately-owned transit options. First and foremost, don’t commit a crime and then verify your location, name, and credit card number with an easy-to-access timestamp attached. Secondly, and perhaps more applicable to most regular people, a lot of your public comings and goings are being tracked when you access these private companies’ services with accounts only usable with credit cards, so it’s something to keep in mind if you value maximum privacy.
Of course, Uber only complied in this case because it was a law enforcement matter with ample video footage to back up the request. But with scooter use only continuing to increase, as companies pour money into new ventures and try and loosen city restrictions around adding ever more vehicles to the pool, it’s likely Uber, Bird, and other companies are going to have a lot more information about how people get around. That’s useful to them, and in some cases to law enforcement, and not so helpful to your average shortsighted criminal.