Luca Mangiarano’s first alleged mistake was robbing a bank.
His second: using an electric scooter as his getaway vehicle.
Aside from the fact that the Silicon Valley imports top out at about 15 mph, police have begun to realize that they’re also something approaching a digital fingerprint on wheels.
Turning a rental scooter on, as regular users know, requires a rider to use an app that contains their phone number, email address and credit card information. You’ll probably be unsurprised to learn that these are the kinds of personal details that make it easy for police to track down criminals.
Just over a month after his alleged crime, Mangiarano was arrested and charged with robbery by threat, police said.
“This was a learning experience for me and the robbery unit,” Detective Jason Chiappardi of the Austin police department said. “We had never had a scooter involved in a robbery. One of the first things I learned was that every scooter has its own design based on their decals and other specific differences.”
The Dec. 18 incident began when the 19-year-old entered BBVA Compass bank in downtown Austin, Texas, and handed a teller a note demanding cash, police said.
Authorities declined to say how much money was stolen, but Fox 7 Austin reported that police said the note included specific instructions: “This is a robbery, please give me all your 100′s and 50′s in a envelope and everything will be ok.”
Once the employee gave him the cash, Mangiarano left the bank, police said, leaving police a trail of electronic bread crumbs waiting to be plucked from the cloud.
Another bank employee spotted a man resembling Mangiarano hop on an electric scooter, police said. Investigators managed to find surveillance video that captured a man dressed like the suspected robber riding away from the crime scene — on the sidewalk, police said.
“One of the biggest things we do is look for video,” Chiappardi said. “It helps us immensely, and in this case it led us to seeing the suspect on the scooter.”
Using the video, police were able to recognize a Jump scooter, police said. Because Jump — which has placed bright-red scooters in seven cities around the country — is owned by Uber, detectives sent the ride-sharing giant a court order requesting geolocation data and user information for the scooter, police said.