Thefts of batteries from distinctive electric scooters across Liverpool have racked up a reported cost of more than half a million pounds.
Merseyside Police has launched an investigation amid more than 700 Voi e-scooters being targeted by thieves throughout the city region. The force has confirmed that six people were arrested on Monday after batteries from the vehicles were taken without permission.
Several stolen scooters have also been recovered by officers who estimate the cost of the thefts to go beyond £500,000.
The electric vehicles have been in operation across Liverpool since a trial began back in October 2020. Liverpool was one of 32 areas throughout the UK to take part in the rental trial scheme, commissioned by the Department for Transport.
A 34-year-old woman, a 15-year-old boy and four men aged 27, 22, 48 and 38 were arrested in Knowsley on suspicion of handling stolen goods and theft. They were taken to a police station in Merseyside where they remain in custody.
A large quantity of batteries were also recovered and seized by officers.
The distinctive scooters adopted areas from Liverpool Council following the closure of its CityBike scheme. A local authority cabinet report last year said the size of the CityBike scheme reduced year on year, due to theft and vandalism, coupled with a lack of available funding to invest in new bikes. As a result, the scheme became what the council described as “unsustainable” due to the annual losses of around £300k each year.
The Swedish micromobility firm is looking to further its reach across the Liverpool City Region. Sam Pooke, Voi senior policy manager for the UK and Ireland, told the city region combined authority’s transport committee in September it would be “very interested” in delivering e-scooters to other councils in future should they be interested.
The company’s contract with Liverpool Council runs until May next year.
Inspector Kieron Hogan said: “Thanks to our work with Voi and Liverpool Council into numerous thefts of scooters and the re-sale of the batteries across Merseyside our officers have arrested six people on suspicion of theft and handling stolen goods. To date there have been in excess of 700 reported thefts within Liverpool, with the estimated cost exceeding over £500,000.
“This not only has an impact on the business but the wider economy and also has substantial reputational risk to the city region. Although several scooters have now been seized across the city and forensically examined our investigation into these crimes continue.
“I hope these arrests reflect our determination to crack down on such crimes that seriously affect businesses in our community and our city. If you have any information that could assist our ongoing investigation please contact us.”
Jack Samler, regional general manager for Voi UK, France and Ireland, added: “We’re very grateful to Merseyside Police for making these arrests and will continue to cooperate with the police investigation, and in due course the CPS, into the theft of our batteries. Battery theft impacts the service we can provide to the people of Liverpool as well as our business and we take a zero tolerance approach to it.
“We will be continuing to work with the police over the coming months to monitor the situation.”
You can also pass information via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or their online form at https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-anonymously