A man rides a new Scoot Kick e-scooter through the crosswalk at Market and Seventh streets. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Scoot pulls its e-scooters off SF streets to install theft-preventing tech

Scoot reported 453 of its e-scooters stolen in San Francisco from October 2018 to February 2019.

Moped and e-scooter company Scoot has pulled all of its electric kick scooters off San Francisco streets.

In a public blog post and an email to its customers, Scoot said it was “returning all of our kick scooters to home base” for an “important firmware update” to help prevent theft.

All those Scoots? Scooted.

The move comes just one day after The City renewed Scoot’s permit to operate in San Francisco.

The moment was one Scoot worked six months to build up to, establishing neighborhood relationships in the Bayview and throughout The City. Many of those they worked with came out to extol the virtues of the mobility service at a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors meeting at City Hall on Tuesday.

One of the features SFMTA staff particularly praised in a presentation to the board was Scoot’s “smart lock” feature, which allows Scoot’s e-scooters to be fastened to poles or bike racks.

That lock allowed Scoot to drastically reduce the number of e-scooters strewn on city sidewalks as well as theft, which has been identified as an industry-wide problem threatening the profitability of some companies, according to news reports.

People are also finding cheap (as low as $32) and easy ways to “hack” e-scooters to steal them, according to Mashable.

“This firmware update will further reduce the potential for theft and is an important step in improving our vehicles and ensuring they will continue to be available to ride everyday,” Scoot wrote in the April 17 blog post.

And that ain’t no joke. Scoot was permitted to run 625 e-scooters in The City, and reported 453 of its e-scooters stolen in San Francisco between October last year and February this year. Scoot did see a decline in the number of e-scooters stolen monthly since it installed device-integrated locks.

Scoot also wrote it expects its scooters to return to San Francisco “early next week.”

This week saw another tech mobility company, Lyft, pull its e-bikes off San Francisco streets. The problem is seemingly unrelated, however, as Lyft said it took the electric-assist bikes off the road after reports of excessively hard braking.

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