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What happens if you destroy a scooter in Tampa?

Plus the most bizarre incidents of electric scooter vandalism around the city.
Ryan Cummings, 23, of Tampa, left, and Alex Frey, 25, also of Tampa, rent Spin electric scooters from a corral located along Zack Street Tuesday, May 28, 2019 in Tampa. Electric scooter companies Spin, Bird, Lime and Jump were being deployed within the next few weeks according to a tweet from the City of Tampa on Sunday. Campbell and Henigan spent a couple of hours Tuesday trying the electric scooters. Frey and his friend Ryan Cummings rented two scooters during their lunch break. "We are going to Armature Works, we couldn’t do that without these." said Frey. [CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Oct. 15
Updated Oct. 15

Electric scooter destruction is not new.

Ever since the transportation trend caught on, people have found all sorts of methods to deface and destroy these devices. There are even entire Instagram accounts dedicated to showcasing the most creative attacks.

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Florida is not immune to this movement.

More than 140 electric scooters have been vandalized by one Fort Lauderdale man since April, according to a statement released by Fort Lauderdale police. On Sept. 29, Fort Lauderdale police arrested Randall Thomas Williams, 59, after a surveillance camera captured him cutting the brake lines of e-scooters around his neighborhood, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

After this story made national news, we wondered: How is Tampa treating its scooters?

How is Tampa trying to limit scooter shenanigans?

Tampa rolled out its pilot scooter program in May and is approaching half a million rides, said Calvin Thornton, an engineer at Tampa’s Transportation and Stormwater Services Department.

Four scooter companies — Lime, Bird, Jump and Spin — each paid the city a $20,000 fee, plus $1 per day per scooter.

“In learning about some the other challenges cities have had, we’ve modeled our program a little bit differently," Thornton said.

Tampa allows each company to leave up to 600 scooters on the streets at a time, meaning the most scooters the city will have out at any time is 2,400. All four brands restrict where riders can use their devices. Some examples include the University of Tampa campus and the sidewalks along 7th Avenue in Ybor and Bayshore Boulevard.

What happens if you vandalize a scooter?

Tampering with a scooter — including using graffiti, breaking off parts or executing other destructive acts — can count as criminal mischief.

Under this charge, property damage under $200 is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by at least 60 days in jail. Property damage between $200 and $1,000 is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable with up to one year in jail. And property damage exceeding $1,000 is a third-degree felony that can result in up to five years in prison.

Scooter costs vary by brand, but the average retail price per device ranges between about $100 and $500, according to a report by Vox. A vandalism attempt on multiple scooters can easily add up to get into the felony range.

Tampa’s most bizarre scooter sabotages

Despite Tampa planning a scooter program that reduces mischief — and the threat of jail time — scooter destruction has still been documented around the city. Here are three examples from Tampa Transportation Director Jean Duncan.

1. Spray painting the QR codes

Spin scooters are ready for deployment at a local Spin scooter distribution warehouse located in east Tampa on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. [JONES | Tampa Bay Times]

Riders scan a QR code with a phone app that is used to activate a scooter and signal the end of their journey. Duncan received reports that someone painted over QR codes on about 50 Lime and Spin scooters.

2. Seeing if Birds can really fly

Unidentified scooter riders crosses South Hyde Park Avenue while riding along Platt Street in Tampa, Florida on Monday, June 10, 2019. [JONES, OCTAVIO | Tampa Bay Times]

Duncan’s office received word that someone was flinging scooters off the top of the William F. Poe parking garage on 800 N Ashley Drive. Of all four brands, only Birds were subjected to this treatment.

3. Drowning

A Bird electric scooter is seen along the Tampa Riverwalk Tuesday, May 28, 2019 in Tampa. Riders are forbidden from riding along the Tampa Riverwalk. [CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times]

Scooter riding is prohibited along Tampa’s Riverwalk. Still, at least one e-scooter met its watery demise after being tossed into the Hillsborough River, according to a report Duncan received.

Have you seen a Tampa scooter in a strange place or situation? Let us know in the comments.


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