Julie Stalmer 6:30 p.m., July 23
Thefts Thwart Launch of High-End Car Rental Service
HiGear, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer car sharing network for high-end autos from makers such as Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, and Lamborghini, will not soon be making its debut in San Diego as planned. In fact, it won’t be operating anywhere in the new year.
The company, which had recently expanded to Los Angeles and had plans to roll out service in San Diego and Portland, instead is closing up shop in response to a rash of thefts by a sophisticated ring of criminals. The group used stolen identities to bypass background checks and in turn steal four cars with values reported in media outlets at totaling between $300,000 and $400,000.
“This incident exposed us to the worst-case risks inherent in our service. Even by improving security and processes, we are not completely sure we can prevent an incident of this sort from happening again given the peer-to-peer nature of our service,” said a company e-mail sent to subscribers, notifying them that the service was to be immediately discontinued.
Due to the high value of the cars offered (the service’s operators estimated the average vehicle value at $70,000), it is believed that similar services using more common vehicles were at a lower risk, such as the car2go service that recently launched locally with a company-owned fleet of electric Smart cars.
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