Westminster councillor exposes Santander Cycles ’theft glitch’

A glitch allowed thieves to steal Santander Cycles with ease (Pic credit: PA)

A glitch allowed thieves to steal Santander Cycles with ease (Pic credit: PA) - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A glitch that allowed people to steal Santander Cycles resulting in genuine customers being billed has been exposed by a councillor in Westminster.

Cllr Barbara Grahame, Labour councillor for Church Street, uncovered the scam after she was alerted to a surge in young people riding the bicycles recklessly in her ward before dumping them.

After teaming up with Murad Qureshi, Labour London Assembly Member, the pair discovered they riders were obtaining the bikes by tapping random codes into a docking station until a bike was released.

This was made possible because the system releases codes for legitimate users to stay live which meant anyone else using the same numbers could also release a bike.

However genuine customers would have been billed for hiring the bicycles if their code has been used by the crooks.

Cllr Grahame told the Wood & Vale: “We were puzzled at first to why so many young people who don’t normally hire Santander Cycles where seen riding around the ward on the bikes. We were wondering what was going on.

“They were riding fast and carelessly and dumping them afterwards so we knew something was wrong.”

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After uncovering the scam the pair informed Transport for London who have now “They were embarrassed when we told them, “ Cllr Grahame added.

James Mead, general manager of Santander Cycles, told the Wood & Vale that any customers who feel they have been wrongly charged for not returning their bike should let them know so they can investigate the matter.

He added: “We recently experienced a software issue that meant that some cycles were released from a small number of docking stations without a valid hire code. This has now been rectified.

“We are making sure that all bikes have been returned and will ensure that any refunds due to customers are made quickly.

“Any costs associated with this will be met by the contractor Serco.”

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