He prowled the streets of southeastern Fort Lauderdale under go over of evening, a pair of wire cutters in his pocket, just one hand sheathed in a glove. Then, the police reported, he carried out his crime: slashing the brake traces of electric scooters and rendering them ineffective.
The suspect, Randall Thomas Williams, 59, was arrested on Sept. 29 and charged with prison mischief, a 3rd-degree felony. The police mentioned they had connected him to about 20 incidents, but at least 140 scooters had been vandalized in Fort Lauderdale due to the fact April 5, and the capers had the hallmark of a serial crime.
All of the scooters were similarly distressed, with severed brake strains and stickers put in excess of a bar code so that the scooters could not be activated with a smartphone. The bulk of them have been within just a two-block radius of Mr. Williams’s apartment, the arrest report explained.
Mr. Williams did not return phone calls on Wednesday, and the Fort Lauderdale law enforcement had minor to say past a information release. But for the previous year, electric scooters have been the source of significantly drama in southern Florida. In June, Fort Lauderdale banned scooters on the beach for the summer. The metropolis also banned them during spring split, on vacations and through the Tortuga Audio Festival in April.
Farther afield, extra than 100 electric powered scooters had been dumped in Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif., final 12 months, whilst many others have been smeared with feces in Los Angeles. There is even an Instagram account, birdgraveyard, that paperwork the destruction of scooters employed by two well-liked makes, Lime and Fowl.
Steve Glassman, a Fort Lauderdale commissioner who approved the summertime scooter ban, instructed The Sunshine-Sentinel in June, “It’s far too substantially of a cost-free-for-all out there.”
Mr. Williams did not give the law enforcement a motive when he was arrested. But the Fort Lauderdale law enforcement had been mindful of the thefts for some time. In June, a consultant for Lime, which rents electrical scooters in Fort Lauderdale, submitted a law enforcement incident report regarding a rash of vandalized scooters. (Quite a few but not all of the 140 scooters destroyed in the city due to the fact April belonged to Lime.)
As of July, the enterprise mentioned, 51 of its scooters experienced been damaged. That thirty day period, Lime explained to investigators it experienced captured a screenshot of a white guy with clippers in hand, crouching in close proximity to a row of scooters, and showed it to men and women in the region.
“Vandalizing assets is not only a criminal offense, it is harmful and immediately harms people who count on these automobiles,” a Lime spokesman stated in a assertion.
Investigators experienced recognized Mr. Williams as a doable suspect by July, in accordance to law enforcement records. And on Sept. 22 at 3:47 a.m. the law enforcement stated, they observed him on video clip, bent over two scooters in an empty driveway. Clad in shorts and sandals, he put a sticker on each individual bike before tampering with the brakes, according to the police.
The police staked out Mr. Williams’s apartment the upcoming weekend. On Sept. 28, he left his dwelling earlier midnight. He stopped to look at a scooter. At 4:10 a.m., he was captured on movie loitering around yet another six, the police said. Their report mentioned 7 scooters have been vandalized that night time.
The upcoming day, Mr. Williams was all over again noticed past midnight, the police report mentioned, adding that he “walked the neighborhood in a stealthy manner, employing the shadows and the alleyways to conceal his movements.” He was noticed approaching a Chicken scooter and reducing the brake line. He returned house. He left once more, this time stopping at a row of 6 scooters.
At 6:16 a.m., the police mentioned, Mr. Williams was approached by officers on foot, adopted by a law enforcement automobile with red and blue flashing lights. He would not go easily. He “balled his fists and refused to comply,” the report reported. “The defendant then commenced to brace, tense and pull absent from officers and refused to enable go of the objects in his palms.”
Mr. Williams was keeping two sets of wire cutters and a pair of pliers, and experienced a glove on one particular hand, the police stated. He had vandalized 9 scooters that evening, according to the report. He was arrested and, back again at the law enforcement station, asked for a law firm, declaring that “he did not want to dig himself into a grave,” the report claimed. Mr. Williams was introduced on Monday after posting $500 bail.
“Lime will go after appropriate authorized action from these who vandalize our residence and put harmless riders in harm’s way,” the company’s spokesman said.
Damages from the 20 incidents that have been traced to Mr. Williams so significantly could full $1,400, the law enforcement claimed. “The exact incurred loss” to the enterprises afflicted, the law enforcement report stated, “is unknown at this time and is however staying calculated.”