For the first time ever, it appears people have finally figured out how to steal car-sharing vehicles.
Chicago authorities revealed earlier this week that 100 car2go vehicles, including 50 Mercedes-Benz models have gone missing in the city.
“Currently, 100 vehicles are unaccounted for and it is believed that 50 vehicles, all Mercedes-Benz, remain in the Chicago land area,” Chicago Police Officer Jose Jara told CNN.
One person has been charged with felony identity theft in relation to the missing vehicles and 21 others charged with misdemeanor criminal vehicular trespassing.
Authorities have recovered an untold number vehicles, and questioned a dozen people of interest.
car2go has temporarily suspended its Chicagoland operations “out of an abundance of caution and safety for our members,” according to a statement the company provided to CNN. No word was given on when car2go will relaunch activity in the city, or an estimated timeline.
However, the brand did say that “no personal or confidential member information has been compromised.”
Since the inception of car-sharing brands like Mercedes-Benz’s car2go, the tech- and security-heavy car-sharing model seemed relatively safe from would-be bad actors. I am personally surprised that criminals were able to hack (or at least game) the system.
Car sharing will be a big part of the mobility infrastructure in the future. Increasing numbers of urbanites will likely forego vehicle ownership and subscribe to services that allow them to pick up a car when they need it and pay for the minutes they spend behind the wheel.
For the model to succeed, however, it will be essential that the apps and software that enable car sharing be secure — both for users and the companies.
And for those of you wondering, Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie and the rest of the “laser cut” key conspirators are not listed as persons of interest.