BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — "We're all scared, because it could be any one of our kids out there getting run over by a U-Haul."
These are the words of one terrified Lovejoy neighbor. He wanted to remain anonymous because those that have complained about the situation in Lovejoy have received threats.
"Messaging people in our neighborhood, threatening them."
For the last five months, neighbors in Lovejoy say they've noticed U-Haul rental trucks speeding down streets, with drivers making suspicious exchanges during quick stops. It came to a head this week, when a U-Haul was involved in a high-speed chase in Lovejoy. Police say the driver had a gun.
Buffalo Common Councilmember Bryan Bollman of Lovejoy says he is receiving calls everyday from neighbors concerned these rental trucks are being used for illegal activities.
"They're terrorizing the neighborhood, it's been a problem," Councilman Bollman said.
This problem isn't only in Buffalo. On Tuesday, Niagara County investigators say two men used a U-Haul to try and steal dirt bikes being sold online.
7 Eyewitness News reached out to U-Haul for comment, to see if there are certain actions that the company takes into account to prevent crime from happening in their vehicles.
In response, U-Haul said in part, "While U-Haul works closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies, the company does not have access to government databases for criminal background checks". The company also says it does not ask what the rental will be used for, but can refuse service to someone believed to be suspicious. For the full Q & A with U-Haul, read below.
What qualifies an individual for rentals, are background checks done?
U-Haul requires customers to be 16 years of age to rent trailers and 18 years of age to rent trucks with a government-issued driver’s license. The origin of the government-issued driver’s license is not a condition of U-Haul truck and trailer sharing policies. While a driver’s license means you have the privilege to drive, this is only the start of the U-Haul dispatch process.
All customers must adhere to the U-Haul Meaningful Assurance program. Meaningful Assurance is a form of collateral to ensure equipment will be returned at the time, place and in the condition agreed upon. Every customer must provide a minimum of two forms of Meaningful Assurance, but additional forms may be needed to satisfy the U-Haul dispatcher. Aside from a government-issued driver’s license, the two most common forms of Meaningful Assurance are a verified credit card in the customer’s name and an additional contact number, which is called and verified at the time of the transaction. If the government-issued driver’s license provided is not local, the customer must provide a minimum of two forms of Meaningful Assurance in addition to the license.
U-Haul believes the ability to move oneself and one’s family is a basic need, and that option should be available and affordable to people of all economic and cultural backgrounds. U-Haul reserves the right to refuse service and equipment, regardless of the Meaningful Assurance offered, when there is deemed to be a valid reason or concern for doing so, in accordance with federal, state and local law.
While U-Haul works closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies, the company does not have access to government databases for criminal background checks. Customers utilizing our equipment are expected adhere to local, state and federal laws. Any violation of these laws is also a violation of the customer contract and our policies, and may result in the customer being unable to rent from U-Haul again. U-Haul employs a robust investigations unit that assists law enforcement in seeing that individuals engaged in criminal activity involving U-Haul equipment are captured and brought to justice.
Do renters have to notify U-Haul of the purpose for the rental?
Typically, no. U-Haul serves millions and millions of DIY customers every year, and our equipment is designed and intended for residential moves. The overwhelming majority of our customers are honest, law-abiding citizens utilizing our equipment for this purpose. We reserve the right to ask about customer use during the rental transaction. However, we also realize that individuals who plan to engage in illegal behavior while in possession of our equipment are not likely to be truthful and inform us of their intended criminal acts.
Is there any way to track where the U-Hauls are going? Is a GPS system involved?
For security reasons, U-Haul does not share information publicly pertaining to certain equipment protection features. U-Haul has no desire to make individuals involved in illegal acts aware of the methods or devices used to track equipment and help law enforcement ensure their capture.