Express Car Rentals – A thief magnet?

You’ve probably seen the signs at your local shopping centre – don’t leave valuables in your parked car. And many of us have probably seen cars parked with windows down or doors unlocked. What is more unusual is to see keys in the ignition. But one place where you will probably see all of the above is the airport car hire section.

In the last decade, car hire companies have been looking at ways of making it easier for their frequent renters to pick up a car. As a time-poor business person, there is nothing worse than being stuck in a queue for key pickup, often with holiday makers who have more time taking over the counter while they get all the insurance options explained. To solve the problem, the car pickup was redesigned. Keys are in the ignition, GPS or WIFI device on the seat, you simply check the bay number on a display, hop in the car, and drive to a booth where your credentials are checked. In theory…

A short while ago a man entered the Hertz car park, stole a BMW X5 from bay C4 just opposite the counters, and stormed through the gate smashing a small Hyundai that was on its way (the driver was inside), dragging it a few meters until it smashed into a pole and drove away. Lots of police came shortly after but the stolen car and the driver have not been found yet.

With a plethora of cars on offer, it would seem the X5 was a logical choice given its powerful engine and value. While we don’t know the reason behind such a heist, it’s possible the car will be used in commission of further offences at a later date. But how often does this occur, is such convenience coming at a cost?

That would be the third stint of stealing a Hertz car at Brisbane airport within the last few weeks, interestingly first time for a prestige car. Yet to happen around midday is shocking

Our members questioned why security was not tighter for such arrangements. One way tyre spikes was a suggestion, until it was pointed out the spaces are in fact rented off the airport, with the airport having to pay for such upgrades. Car tracking was also mentioned. This is a popular feature in the United States, but not that common here, no doubt cost again being the issue. In this case, the company quickly reverted to different practices for the remainder of the day

Today everyone (had) to pick up the keys from the counter, with a priority given to gold members. Will be interesting to see if they will change their policy after today’s events.

So what is the future for easy pickup of rental cars at Airports? Will we be forced to visit the office to get the keys? Or is the unlikely option of the airports investing in better security going to happen? Have you seen a similar event when picking up a rental car, join the conversation HERE.

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