The theft of automotive and motorcycle parts, as well as vehicles as a whole, is nothing new. I mean, it’s largely why we can’t have nice things, because there’ll always be someone out there who’ll want to take them away from us, for whatever reason. Now, you may be fooled to think that EVs, especially electric motorcycles, will be harder to fall victim to theft, then you’d be wrong.
Sure, there are fewer parts to steal—no more internal combustion engine, and exhaust and intake system, but there’s something that’s extremely valuable inside your electric two-wheeler: batteries. This is exactly what has been happening in Milan, Italy, where 12 people were recently arrested for stealing the batteries of electric scooters. Shared vehicles, such as e-bicycles and scooters, are the most affected. The cells are dismantled and sold on the black market or in the reconditioned second-hand market, most of the time to oblivious buyers looking for replacement batteries for their own vehicles.
As it would turn out, the theft of battery packs from electric two-wheelers can be rather complex. The majority of current battery packs include extensive coding and software interfaces that are only available from the manufacturer. This necessitates a highly advanced and well-equipped criminal organisation with the skills and know-how to get beyond these protective measures. This might indicate a new modus operandi for organised crime.
This is especially true in the case of the 12 criminals who were apprehended in Milan. During the years 2020 and 2021, it's estimated that 700 battery packs were stolen. Some of those detained have priors for petty theft and drug-related activities, according to their profiles. When City Scoot, one of Milan's scooter-sharing firms, reported a high incidence of battery thefts in 2020, the inquiry began. The firm reported roughly 600 missing batteries in total, which equates to around €600,000 (approx. £500,000), with each battery pack estimated to cost €1,000 (£825).
Given the rapid rise in popularity of electric vehicles, as well as the integration of battery-swapping technology into the mix, chances are additional steps will need to be taken to safeguard the safety and security of the battery packs in electric vehicles. Alas, as exciting and promising electrification seems to be, there will always be hurdles that need to be overcome, and people up to no good, other than make things even more difficult for the industry.