As Tactic Spreads, Truck Rental Companies Land On The Front Line In Fight Against Terror

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While investigators are focusing on the Home Depot truck that was rented in Passaic, New Jersey, there were nearly 150 rental companies around the area on alert well before the lower Manhattan attack.

It’s incredibly easy to rent a truck like the one used in the attack as retired NYPD lieutenant, and head of Security USA David Boehm explained to CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.

“I can go on my phone and I can fill out the application and rent the vehicle and then show up and get that vehicle,” he said.

Right now, you only need to be 21-years-old, and have a valid driver’s license to rent from Home Depot.

When the suspect rented the truck, he left behind a minivan.

“One of the reasons they would choose a truck over a minivan, is just the weight of the vehicle. It’s going to be stronger, it’s going to be more powerful,” Boehm said.

The NYPD started warning truck rental companies about possible terrorism activity about 2 years ago, after an ISIS magazine started encouraging attacks using vehicles.

Police have done extensive outreach to these companies visiting more than 148 rental locations in the area, giving them guidelines on possible suspicious activity and encouraging employees to go with their instincts.

“You’re the person who rents trucks for a living, you know what fits in and doesn’t without going over a particular profile. if something doesn’t feel right to you, call,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, John Miller said.

In this case, the suspect rented the truck shortly after 2 p.m. and was mowing people down on the bike path an hour later.

Apparently no red flags went up beforehand.

“As far as the truck rental goes, those interviews are being conducted, and I haven’t seen that, but there was certainly nothing unusual enough to cause somebody to call,” Miller said.

Truck rental companies said they’ll continue to work with law enforcement on tightening up security.

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