Many DC Victims of Car Theft Use Same Carsharing App, AG Warns

A large number of people who had their car stolen in the District of Columbia this year turned out to be using the carsharing app Getaround to make extra money by renting their personal vehicles, Attorney General Karl Racine warned residents in a statement.

Since the start of 2020, more than 200 auto thefts have been reported to authorities in D.C. And over 75 of the victims were Getaround users, according to Racine.

In a consumer alert the D.C. Attorney General’s Office issued on February 3, it was stated that many of the recent car thefts in the city are likely to be connected to the use of the app.

With the app, users can rent private vehicles by the hour or day from their owners. After creating a profile on the platform, consumers are able to search for cars based on location and type of vehicle.

When a rental request is approved by the owner, users can travel to where the car is and unlock it via the app on their smartphone. The car’s keys are left inside and users can bring back the car at the end of their rental period.

“Vehicles listed on Getaround could be at increased risk of theft because keys are left inside of the car and the car’s location is visible to anyone searching the platform,” the statement said.

The Office of Attorney General is advising D.C. residents to always read instructions and fine print to make sure they are using a product correctly and at its safest.

Users of Getaround can take advantage of two features the app is offering for protection against auto theft. The first one is “lockboxes,” which “allows vehicle owners to secure their keys within their car that can only be opened by a four-digit code provided in the car’s pickup instructions.”

And “Enhanced Security” disables a car’s starter when it is not being used for an authorized trip.

Anyone who has their car stolen can report it to the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-9099.