By Fred Hamilton
DELRAY BEACH – With rising gas prices and families still recovering from the economic downturn, scooters are becoming an increasingly more popular mode of transportation. They’re also becoming a prime target for theft, police said.
“As of right now there is no obvious reason as to why these vehicles have become the hot targets other than they’re easy to steal,” Detective Paul Weber said. “It’s faster and [more fun] to steal a scooter than it is a bicycle, and virtually as easy at the moment.”
Since Nov., 30, thieves have swiped 10 scooters from sidewalks and other areas over a four-day period, records show. Six of the thefts occurred between the evening and early morning hours. To date three scooters have been recovered at various locations across the city, police said.
Authorities think they are stolen and used locally for transportation.
“We know the scooters are staying local,” Weber said.
They’re cheaper and smaller. The tanks are less expensive to fill and the costs of insurance and registration don’t even come close to that of a car. But they also give people a false sense of security, police said. Some scooter owners leave the keys in the ignition or keep their scooter stored in their garage – with the door open. The combined temptation and convenience contributes to the spike in thefts.
Most, if not all, of the thefts were preventable simply with a good lock, detectives said. Authorities have not made any arrest in connection to the thefts to date. But police who see registered but unsecured scooters are contacting the owners and sharing tips on how they can best protect their rides.
Authorities suggest owners register scooters, invest in a lock, put an alarm sticker in a visible place and park by security cameras.
“Obviously, many of the low cost scooters are very easy to steal by [breaking] the ignition switch, which also serves as a steering wheel lock,” Weber said. “We are trying to stress the importance of a secondary locking system such as a chain type bike lock and chaining the scooters to a bike rack or other immovable object.”
Detectives are asking anyone seeing suspicious activity involving scooters to contact the police. “Some examples of suspicious activity would be things such as, hiding scooters in the back yard, wires protruding from where the ignition should be, seeing someone riding a scooter who is known to not own one,” Weber said.