The Scooters Are Not for Crimes

Scooter and cellphone data lead to Austin teen's arrest for bank robbery

Fans of criminal ineptitude the world over (literally; this story got picked up in Poland) chortled last Thursday as an Austin teen was arrested for bank robbery after fleeing the scene of the heist on an electric scooter. Not immediately, though; it took Austin Police investigators a month to track down 19-year-old Luca Mangiarano after he allegedly produced a note demanding "all your 100's and 50's in an envelope" at the BBVA Compass branch at Sixth and Guadalupe on Dec. 18.

A bank employee saw a man resembling the suspect departing the area on an e-scooter (on the sidewalk); APD was able to obtain surveillance video that identified the device as a Jump scooter, Uber's dockless mobility brand. The ride-hailing titan has a team of retired cops that works directly with local police; upon receiving a warrant, they identified the specific trip via GPS records and turned over Mangiarano's account info. Video captured later at the teen's apartment matched the bank footage, and his cell phone data also placed him near the branch at the time of the heist.

It's not a best practice to use third-party devices and apps that track one's location in the commission of one's crimes, but the detective work involved in cracking the Mangiarano case paired the data mining with more old-fashioned criminological techniques. Without an eyewitness and video, Mangiarano's fateful and ill-advised scooter ride wouldn't have been discernible from the literally thousands of such trips (according to the Austin Transportation Depart­ment's dockless-mobility open data portal) originating near Sixth and Guadalupe on Dec. 18 alone. "This was a learning experience for me and the robbery unit," APD Detective Jason Chiappardi told The Washington Post. "We had never had a scooter involved in a robbery." Austin's not alone, though; the Post reports that Bird and Lime devices have been involved in theft cases in Baltimore, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, none yet resulting in an arrest.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More scooters
New Data and Rules for Dockless Scooters
New Data and Rules for Dockless Scooters
Open data on 2 million dockless trips, plus new rules for riding on trails

Nina Hernandez, Jan. 18, 2019

City Ready to Wrangle Scooters
City Ready to Wrangle Scooters
"Dockless mobility" getting permanent rules

Mike Clark-Madison, Oct. 19, 2018

More by Mike Clark-Madison
Envisioning the Future of Austin State Hospital
Envisioning the Future of Austin State Hospital
What will it take to turn the former Texas State Lunatic Hospital into a world-class center of brain health?

March 22, 2019

Austin at Large: City Hall’s Game of Threes
Austin at Large: City Hall’s Game of Threes
Spencer Cronk quizzes the Council to win a new land use code!

March 22, 2019


scooters, bank robbery, Luca Mangiarano, Austin Police, Jump, Uber, Jason Chiappardi, BBVA Compass

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle