Car2Go Smart car rentals parked on the streets of Amsterdam in 2013.
Photo: Peter Dejong

Thieves have stolen an astonishing number of Car2Go vehicles in the city of Chicago, Motherboard reported on Wednesday, with up to 100 cars reported missing. According to the Verge, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement that 16 people have been detained for questioning.

Car2Go, a Smart car and Mercedes-Benz rental service and app founded by German firm Daimler, recently merged with BMW-rental service DriveNow under the shared brand name Share Now. On Twitter, it disputed accounts that it had been “hacked,” instead characterizing the thefts as an “instance of fraud.”

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The service added that no confidential or personal data on members had been compromised, while it has temporarily suspended its Chicago service “as a precaution.”

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The issue appears to be limited to certain districts of Chicago. It’s not clear how the cars were actually stolen, over what time period, or how long it took the company to notice.

Registering for Car2Go requires the use of a credit card and validation of a driver’s license, which the registration page says can take up to two business days for processing. The cars are unlocked via an app and, according to an FAQ, the service does not require customers to take out reservations to acquire a vehicle—users can simply hop in to the nearest one that hasn’t been reserved by someone else.

However, Motherboard reported a Car2Go spokesman confirmed that all of the vehicles have GPS trackers (which would presumably be necessary to operate the service in the first place). Police are apparently working to see if any other vehicles are missing.

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“We were alerted by a car rental company that some of their vehicles may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means through a mobile app. Due to the information provided by the company, numerous vehicles have been recovered and persons of interest are being questioned,” a Chicago police spokesperson told the Verge.

“We are working with the company to determine whether there are any other vehicles whose locations cannot be accounted for. At this time, the recoveries appear to be isolated to the West Side. The investigation is ongoing.”

Gizmodo has reached out to Car2Go for comment, and we’ll update if we hear back.

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[Motherboard/The Verge]