Texas teenager ‘robs bank before escaping on electric scooter’

 Investigators find surveillance footage showing man running away from crime scene 

Peter Holley
Sunday 03 February 2019 19:33
Luca Mangiarano, 19, is accused of robbing a bank in Austin and making his escape on an electric scooter
Luca Mangiarano, 19, is accused of robbing a bank in Austin and making his escape on an electric scooter

A teenager robbed a bank in Texas before escaping on an electric scooter, police said.

Luca Mangiarano, 19, was arrested on 24 January and charged in connection with a bank robbery in Austin.

“This was a learning experience for me and the robbery unit,” detective Jason Chiappardi said. “We had never had a scooter involved in a robbery. One of the first things I learned was that every scooter has its own design based on their decals and other specific differences.”

The incident on 18 December began when Mr Mamgiarano entered the BBVA Compass bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash, police said.

Authorities declined to say how much money was stolen, but Fox 7 Austin reported that police said the note included specific instructions: “This is a robbery, please give me all your 100′s and 50′s in a envelope and everything will be ok.”

Once the employee gave him the cash, Mr Mangiarano left the bank, police said, leaving police a trail of electronic bread crumbs waiting to be plucked from the cloud.

Another bank employee spotted a man resembling Mr Mangiarano hop on an electric scooter, police said. Investigators managed to find surveillance video that captured a man dressed like the suspected robber riding away from the crime scene – on the pavement, police said.

“One of the biggest things we do is look for video,” Mr Chiappardi said. “It helps us immensely, and in this case it led us to seeing the suspect on the scooter.”

Using the video, police were able to recognise a Jump scooter, police said. Because Jump – which has placed bright-red scooters in seven cities around the country – is owned by Uber, detectives sent the ride-sharing giant a court order requesting geolocation data and user information for the scooter, police said.

After receiving the court order, police said Uber provided investigators with Mr Mangiarano's contact information – a phone number and email address – as well as a credit card number. Surveillance video taken from in front of the teenager's apartment – which resembled still photos taken inside the bank –convinced investigators that they had identified the perpetrator, police said.

Investigators claimed that Mr Mangiarano's mobile information placed him in the vicinity of the bank at the time of the robbery.

“We knew that the scooter used GPS because if the company needs to retrieve them, they need to know where the scooters are,” Mr Chiappardi said.

“I sent a search warrant to Uber, and they were able to give us any of the account information for each ride. As an Uber user myself, I know what info I have to provide to use an Uber, and I was hoping it would be the same case with an electric scooter – and it was.”

Uber has a law enforcement operations team made up of former law enforcement professionals who “work directly with detectives on investigations”, the company said.

“We appreciate the Austin Police Department's work in this case that led to an arrest of this individual,” the company said in a statement about the bank robbery.

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“We fully cooperated with law enforcement and will continue to provide any information to them that may be helpful on their investigation.”

Mr Chiappardi said technology is rapidly changing the way investigators do their jobs because much of their time is spent tracking down digital clues, whether they're found inside a suspect's computer, phone or a recently used e-scooter.

“In the past you were looking for fingerprints and then it was DNA, and now you're looking more and more towards examining people's digital footprint,” he added.

Mr Mangiarano is not the first person alleged to have used an electric scooter as a means of escape after a crime.

In September, police were searching for a suspected burglar who fled the scene using a Bird scooter, according to ABC News.

In August, St Louis police said they were investigating an incident involving a 35-year-old St Louis woman who said she was carjacked by a man who approached her riding a Lime scooter, according to NBC affiliate KSDK.

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