- A man in Florida was arrested on charges of criminal mischief after he was caught on tape cutting the brakes of Lime scooters.
- 59-year-old Randall Thomas Williams is suspected of being behind up to 20 incidents in his neighbourhood in recent days.
- Lime says it will take legal action against anyone found defacing its vehicles.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida have arrested a 59-year-old man who they say was caught on video cutting brake lines of electric scooters operated by Lime.
Randall Thomas Williams was charged with criminal mischief, a third degree felony, the department said Tuesday. A YouTube video, apparently caught on a neighbour’s Ring doorbell, caught him red-handed.
“Further investigation revealed a total of 20 scooters were located nearby with severed brake lines,” police said, adding that more than 140 electric scooters – from multiple operators – throughout the city have been vandalised since April.
“Anyone who witnesses someone tampering with electric scooters should call 911 immediately,” the statement continued. “Additionally, anyone who finds a scooter that appears to have been tampered with should contact the vendor.”
Lime told Business Insider that there have been no reports of injuries stemming from this vandalism and that the company will pursue legal action against anyone found to have damaged a vehicle.
“Vandalizing property is a crime and only harms those who rely on these vehicles everyday as an affordable, convenient way to get around. We are thankful that FLPD was able to apprehend a suspect in this case,” a representative for the company said in an emailed statement.
The representative declined to say if 140 incidents is a higher-than-average number of damaged scooters for the company.
Scooter backlash is nothing new
It’s not clear why scooters have generated such a backlash in some communities, but the backlash has been swift and vocal.
Instagram accounts like “Bird Graveyard” or “Scooters Behaving Badly” have racked up hundreds of thousands of followers. “Don’t park or ride your e-scooter like an arsehole,” the description of one account reads. “Better yet, don’t ride one at all.”
To be sure, some companies, amid the explosion of e-scooter popularity, took a page from Uber and Lyft’s early playbook by setting up shop in some cities and towns without permission, understandably garnering anger from locals.
Still, even in places where they have been regulated and legalised, the backlash has continued. Their adoption has been nothing like that of ride-hailing, which was met with opposition from groups like taxi drivers, but not consumers at large, who helped Uber and Lyft go public at massive valuations this year.
“The answer could be rooted in our innate preference for the comfortably familiar over the jarringly new,” David Zipper, a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of public policy, theorised in City Lab.
“When e-scooters arrive in a city, an automobile driver must suddenly share road space with a vehicle in an unfamiliar shape, moving in unfamiliar ways – which is stressful,” he wrote last month, adding that limited footpath space in American cities that continue to prioritise cars over any other traffic may also be at play.
“Pedestrians, too, must adapt their behaviour when e-scooters show up, keeping an eye out for a rider zipping along the footpath or an unused device blocking their path.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.