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Rayha K. McPherson ’25 bought a scooter because she could barely walk.
The Adams House resident tore her ACL, MCL, and meniscus during a club soccer game in the fall. Getting to class became painful, she said, so she purchased a scooter at her father’s recommendation.
She had it for three weeks.
After tutoring a student in the Barker Center one morning, she stepped outside to find her scooter gone — despite securing it with a flexible lock.
“I was really confused,” she said. “I kind of did a double take — I’m like, ‘Maybe I didn’t bring it,’ and then I’m like ‘Wait, no, I definitely did, because I literally can’t walk.’”
After looking around the area, McPherson filed a report with the Harvard University Police Department. Though she ended up getting a new scooter, the original one remains lost.
Electric scooter and bike thefts at Harvard have surged over the past two years. According to HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano, the number of scooter and electric bike thefts increased by 97 percent between 2022 and 2023. HUPD received 142 reports of stolen scooters and bikes last year.
Riccardo A. Rollo ’27 — who plays soccer for the varsity men’s team — used a scooter for one week before it was stolen from the Dillon Fieldhouse during a summer practice session. He bought a scooter to make transit between the soccer field, his dorm, and classes more efficient.
HUPD assigned Rollo a detective, who found footage from a camera at the fieldhouse. Rollo said that two weeks later, the detective texted him with a photo of a man riding the scooter. The man in the photo was Rollo.
Rollo said that the detective later discovered abandoned scooters in the woods and brought Rollo to the HUPD building to take a look at them. None of them were his.
“Apparently the scooter model was too common,” Rollo said.
When a theft is reported to HUPD, according to Catalano, an initial review of the incident is conducted by the Detective Bureau to determine whether enough evidence exists to proceed with an investigation. Evidence could be a witness, security footage, or a tracking device.
Some students have seen progress in the case of their stolen scooters.
Ethan C. Kelly ’25, whose scooter was stolen outside the Harvard Kennedy School, said that he contacted HUPD immediately and filed a police report. While HUPD located the scooter and arrested an individual on charges of larceny, Kelly was ultimately unable to retrieve his scooter.
“Honestly, I just want my scooter back or just want money for the scooter because it cost over $500,” Kelly said. “I’m not at all hellbent on them going to jail or anything over this.”
Other students — like Taj S. Gulati ’25, whose scooter was stolen late last semester — have opted to not report the incidents.
“I didn’t really go through a lot of effort to get it back,” he said. “I just made peace with it.”
Gulati said that he decided not to report the theft because he had “no confidence” in recovering his scooter, which he said was stolen on a dark night in an area without cameras.
Catalano wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that students can take precautions to decrease the chance of their scooter being stolen.
Students can use a lock and tracking tag, secure their scooter in a bike cage, and register it with HUPD’s Bicycle and Micro Mobility Device Registration Form, among other options.
While a tracking device may help HUPD locate a scooter sooner, Catalano wrote, students “should NOT track down the item on their own or confront someone who may be in possession of their scooter.”
Eva D. Rankin ’26, a Currier resident and rugby player, got a scooter for her birthday in September to commute between the rugby field across the river and her classes in the Yard.
Earlier this week, Rankin left her scooter outside of Boylston Hall for 20 minutes. Despite hiding it among bikes “to try and mask it,” she left her meeting to find it missing.
While Rankin plans on filing a police report, she said it’s “not a top priority.”
“I really have zero hope that it will get found,” she said.
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