The holiday thief in Styria

Parking an e-bike in the wrong box? That actually never happens at the Austria-wide e-bike rental service, the iBike-Box. It was too noticeable when in summer 2020 a vacationer allowed himself to bike from hotel to hotel for almost two weeks without ever paying a bill.

In Styria there was a guest, who had apparently never existed. From a hotel that rents e-bikes to vacationers, the man rode his bike route day after day to another hotel. He checked in, stayed there, booked himself an e-bike, paid no bills, got on the bike and went to the next mountain pasture with an eBike box, a kind of garage for rental bikes.

The rented e-bike was never returned to the rental place, but has stopped at the next box in another hotel. In return, another one had disappeared. Sounds like a “catch me if you can” story, and it went on like that day after day. Until in the second week the head of service of the iBike-Box in Gleisdorf got suspisious: “There is something fishy about this change of location.” They followed the route of the holiday thief live on the monitor.

Using the PowUnity fleet platform, which shows us every movement of our nearly 250 e-bikes, we are able to locate and trace each of our e-bikes.

“Using the PowUnity fleet platform, which shows us every movement of our nearly 250 e-bikes, we are able to locate and trace each of our e-bikes,” says Markus Preiss, Head of Service at iBike-Box. The holiday thief parked the last e-bike in Übelbach, near Kleinalm.

“Our detective catch-up action started in the Enns Valley in the town of Liezen,” he continues. The holiday thief could be recognized and caught three days later in a park. To his misfortune, he had given his real contact details. Fortunately the iBike-Box didn‘t have any financial theft damage.

The e-bikes of the iBike-Box are stored in designed wooden cubes, so-called iBike boxes, each assigned to one of the 32 hotels, municipalities or tourist offices. No thief has ever broken into one. The company contacted PowUnity two years ago to test the BikeTrax GPS tracker by a much bigger security concern than burglary prevention: the risk of fake bookings.

The fleet operator wanted a centrally controlled overview tool of their Austria-wide rental partners. They wanted to be able to track all routes of e-bikes and, in case of a fake booking, see immediately when e-bikes disappear over all mountains. Their wish was fulfilled.

The iBike-Box uses PowUnity’s fleet platform as an integrated tool in their own system via an API interface. This gives them two in one: a booking tool for all bikes and a security software where they can see all routes of their e-bikes in real time.

“With the integrated software, we can also track all erroneous non-bookings, meaning when bikes were rented but not booked for some reason. Or we can see if a guest is just taking a test ride. We would not be able to manage this organizational effort at all without the fleet platform,” explains Markus Preiss.

This year, the iBike-Box is expanding its fleet by another 100 locations in Austria and on Mallorca – all boxes equipped with 6-10 e-bikes and the BikeTrax GPS tracker.

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