Vehicle rental employees can prevent terror attacks by
helping identify suspicious customers who want to use vehicles for nefarious
purposes, according to a new video produced by the U.S. federal government.
The video—a joint project from the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS), the FBI, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Truck Renting and Leasing Association, and the American Car Rental
Association—shows the “tripwires,” or basic indicators, that vehicle rental
employees can look for in someone planning a terrorist attack.
“An informed and observant public is our best partner in
hometown security,” says Brian Harrell, assistant director for infrastructure
security at DHS's Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), who also appears in the video. “People who are directly interacting
with consumers can spot red flags that could indicate a potential threat, if
they are trained on what to look for."
“CISA has been collaborating with our federal partners and
industry stakeholders for the last few years to raise awareness of vehicle
ramming and other threats to soft targets and crowded places,” Harrell adds. “The
FBI, the American Car Rental Association, and the Truck Renting & Leasing
Association have been key partners, and the FBI’s video is an important new
tool in the unified federal and industry efforts to increase awareness about
threats to soft targets and engage people who can directly help reduce these threats.”
The video instructs employees who encounter customers that
may be suspicious to, if able to do safely, document a description of the individual, why
the encounter was suspicious or alarming, rental agreements and identification provided
by the customer, information on others with the customer, and any information about
how the customer left the rental facility. That information can then be passed on to the employee's supervisor or law enforcement.
The agencies released the video in response to the 19
vehicle-ramming attacks that occurred around the world between 2016 and 2017;
40 percent of those attacks involved a vehicle that was rented from a commercial
Many of these attacks occurred in Europe, but have also occurred in the United States--including in New York City when a man drove a rented truck down a bike path and killed eight people. Following the incident, the city installed 1,500 metal bollards and planters at popular locations to prevent future vehicle attacks.