Tighter screening expected for rental trucks following attack, experts say

By: Brittney Johnson

Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Some security experts expect more scrutiny and tighter screenings for rental truck companies after the suspect in the New York City truck attack used a truck he rented from Home Depot to kill eight people, injuring 11 others.

[New York terror attack: What we know]

Experts said ISIS is encouraging terrorists to use trucks as an easy low-tech way to cause widespread death and destruction.

Police said Sayfullo Saipov used the truck in Tuesday’s attack.

Security expert Ross Bulla said renting may have a been a key part of Saipov's plan.

"He probably rented the vehicle just because of its size and weight," Bulla said.

Channel 9 looked into how easy it is to rent a truck like the one in the attack.

The Home Depots' website explains that customers can rent the flatbed truck for a base fee of $19.99 with a $50 deposit. They also need to be 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

A spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Administration told Eyewitness News that the agency is "aware that these low-tech/lone-wolf attacks are possible and encouraged by our adversaries."

In April, TSA released guidance on vehicle-ramming attacks, targeting trucking and bus companies, including even the school bus industry.

The report lays out 17 attacks worldwide between 2014 and April of 2017. The deadliest attack happened in Nice, France in 2016 when a driver rented a refrigerator truck and killed 87 people at a parade. In March of 2017, a man in a rented SUV killed six people on London's Westminster Bridge.

The Oklahoma City bomber also rented a Ford pickup to carry out his attack in 1997.

Bulla said after this most recent incident, citizens should want and expect more screening at rental counters to weed out potential terrorists.

"What needs to be put in place is, 'Why someone wants the truck? What their intentions are? How long do they plan to use it?" Bulla said.

In addition to the guidance, the TSA offers online training to help bus and trucking companies prevent vehicle-ramming attacks.

Eyewitness News reached out to several rental truck companies. Penske said they work with the FBI, and U-Haul started using a live-verification system to weed out suspicious renters.

U-Haul International statement:

“Tuesday's tragedy in Manhattan steels U-Haul's resolve to ensure these issues have our full attention, urgency, and intensity.” 

American Trucking Associations statement:

"The Transportation Security Administration released guidance earlier this year for the prevention of vehicle attacks, which included many longstanding best practices already exercised throughout the trucking industry. The commercial trucking industry deploys significant security measures like vehicle tracking, alarms and specialized locks, ongoing driver awareness training and driver vetting, among many more. ATA will continue to communicate and coordinate with TSA and other law enforcement agencies to strengthen the security of our transportation networks and supply chain."

Penske Truck Leasing statement:

"Penske Truck Leasing takes rental security measures very seriously and regularly communicates advisories and provides training to its rental team on proper security protocol. To rent a vehicle, Penske Truck Leasing requires two forms of valid I.D. (one with photo) and renter’s names are screened against a watch-list that we purchase from a third-party service. Penske’s security officials regularly meet with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies regarding security measures. Penske is also involved in a cross-industry security working group through the Truck Renting and Leasing Association to share best practices. Penske is deeply disturbed by the terrorist incident yesterday in New York. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims."

FBI Charlotte Division statement:

"The safety and security of the people of North Carolina is our top priority and we work hand-in-hand with our Federal, State and Local law enforcement partners to gather, share and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. In that light, we urge the public to report any and all suspicious activity to the FBI or are any of our partners."  

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