Computer says automobile is stolen, innocent people arrested

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

We continue to pay a high price for our increased reliance on broken software:

In 2017, Magalie Sterlin also rented a car from Hertz and found guns drawn on her at a checkpoint. The cops told her that the car she was driving had been reported stolen, which was news to Sterlin because she had rented it. She got arrested and was held for half a day.

In her police report Sterlin told officers “she did not return the vehicle despite the employee asking her.” But Sterlin claims Hertz called her a few days earlier and told her to return the car because the registration was about to expire. She says, Hertz agreed she could return the car Monday instead of Thursday. She was arrested on Sunday.

“When I got out of jail I was told there was a glitch in the system,” she said.

Sterlin has since hired a lawyer, Francis Alexander, who says that this “glitch” is causing between “10 [and] 30” wrongly reported stolen car issues across the country.

“The problem is Hertz has broken computer systems. They have broken policies around standard operating procedures and, as a result of that, good people are being thrown in jail. It’s shocking, it’s bad and it needs to stop,” he told the outlet.

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