The Mexican Association of Vehicle Lessors (AMAVe) is promoting efforts to penalize the failure to return a rental car as an act of theft, ending the country’s traditional approach to the offense as a “breach of trust.”
In Mexico, the lack of a rental contract has determined the simple “breach of trust” consideration when a person does not return a vehicle to a lessor, according to AMAVe.
“The crime (suffered by the rental companies) has grown exponentially in the last three years, there are gangs operating, they go to the rental companies, they rent a vehicle when they have almost sold it,” AMAVe Director Liliana Anaya explained.
Roly Osuna, project manager of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, said advanced document forgeries have contributed to the rise in rental car theft.
“People arrive with false identification [to rent a car]. And although we have certain protocols, and the team is trained in the steps to follow, there are times when [the criminal] gets away. The counterfeits are made better and better, and it keeps happening,” said Osuna.
Until recently, according to AMAVE, only the state of Sonora had criminalized the non-return rental cars, its legislators approving the measure in December. In 2022 alone, 150 cases of rental cars that were not returned were registered in Sonora, causing damage to the lessors of about 40 million pesos (US $2.2 million).
Seeking to replicate the Sonoran measure nationally, AMAVe successfully pursued a legal process to criminalize failure to return a rental car in the state of Quintana Roo, overturning the former “breach of trust” approach.
Last year, the losses for rental companies in Quintana Roo due to the non-return of rental cars amounted to more than 100 million pesos (US $5.6 million).
Classifying the non-return of cars as theft at the national level will advance in the protection of the car rental industry, Osuna noted.
In addition to Sonora and Quintana Roo, the State of Mexico and Mexico City have experienced high rental car theft rates.