Fort Lauderdale, FL. — Police in Fort Lauderdale have arrested a man who appears on surveillance video to be cutting the brake line on a pair of electric scooters that people rent to ride around the city, police say.
Randall Thomas Williams, 59, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, is seen in the video at about 3:47 a.m. on Sept. 22 walking up to a pair of electric scooters and tampering with the handle bars and wheels and then walking away, according to police.
On Sunday, Fort Lauderdale police caught Williams in the act and found a total of 20 scooters with severed brake lines in the area, officials said Tuesday afternoon.
Police haven’t said whether anyone was hurt by riding any of the damaged scooters, and they also haven’t yet said if a motive is known for the vandalism.
Since April, more than 140 electric scooters have been vandalized — with most of them near the 1200 block of East Broward Boulevard, within a two-block radius of where Williams lives, investigators said.
All of them were damaged in the same way. Williams also placed white stickers over the QR codes on the scooters that a smartphone app reads to activate the scooters, according to the arrest report.
Police notified the scooter vendor who took the damaged scooters out of service and remotely deactivated all other scooters in the area to reduce the risk of injury to unwitting riders.
Electric scooters can reach speeds of 15 to 17 mph and have resulted in more than 70 accidents, including 57 hospital visits and one death between December and April, according to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.
The cost of repairing the 20 scooters Williams is accused of damaging totals about $1,400. The loss of revenue that 140 scooters would have generated since April is still being calculated, police said.
Officers staked out the area during the weekend. About 4 a.m. Saturday, police saw Williams walking in the darkness, hiding in the shadows, and using back alleyways to roam the neighborhood.
He was seen loitering near scooters and using a sharp object to cut wires. He was also recorded on video covering the QR codes with stickers.
Police said Williams resumed his vandalism early Sunday morning and that’s when they moved in to arrest him. He took a defensive stance but was eventually taken into custody. Officers seized two sets of wire cutters, a pair of hand held lock pliers, and a glove he was wearing.
During police questioning, Williams requested a lawyer saying he “did not want to dig himself into a grave,” the arrest report stated.
Williams is charged with criminal mischief, resisting an officer without violence, loitering and prowling. He was released from the Broward County Jail Monday on a $500 bond, court records show. It’s unknown if he will face more charges but the police investigation is ongoing.
Vendors Bird, Bolt, Lime and Gotcha operated a combined total of 1,700 dockless scooters in Fort Lauderdale. Gotcha, with its 200 scooters, announced in August it was leaving the city.
Investigators are asking anyone who sees someone tampering with electric scooters to call 911 immediately. Anyone who finds a scooter that appears to have been tampered with should contact the vendor listed on the scooter.
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