Mobike, the Chinese bike sharing company, is dealing with a growing problem of theft in Mexico City, the market it entered this year.
Reuters, citing app customers, reported that theft has been so expansive during the past few days that users have complained that there aren’t any available bicycles and that they may switch to a competitor. Mobike told Reuters the shortage of bicycles was due to theft and demand, given it only has 500 bicycles available as it awaits approval to expand further in Mexico City. It has also been working with local law enforcement officials to try to get back the stolen bicycles, Rene Ojeda, director of the Mexican unit of Mobike, told Reuters. He noted that since it entered the Mexico City market, subscriptions have increased 70 percent each week.
It’s not the only player in the market — VBike, the Mexican company, operates around 2,000 bicycles, while EcoBici, a bike sharing company backed by Mexico City’s government, has 6,5000 bikes and around 260,000 customers, noted the report. “Mobike was a good option for me since I work in the area,” Fernando Galicia, an unhappy Mobike user in Mexico City, told Reuters. “But I’ve gone to EcoBici, and not because it’s cheaper, but because they always have bikes.”
Reuters found around 60 bicycles using the app in Tepito, a neighborhood known for black markets for clothing, films and illegal drugs. Ojeda said that some customers will commute to work on the bicycles and leave them in Tepito, which isn’t in its operating area. But Reuters, reviewing the app during the week, found none of the bikes left Tepito. A resident of Tepito said the bikes are being used to move drugs. The statement was backed up by two other residents, noted the report. Mobike’s bicycles have GPS tracking and are equipped with an alarm that lets the company know when a bike leaves its operating zone. The bikes also have 60 patented parts so they can’t be sold as parts, noted the report.