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Canada  

Weaponizing rental vehicles

Monday's deadly rental van rampage in Toronto shows how quickly a vehicle can be turned into a weapon, but rental agencies are finding few clear options to prevent their property from involvement in such violent acts.

The urgency to find solutions is increasing, however.

The attack in Toronto that left at least 10 people dead and several injured is only the latest of a spate of vehicle attacks — including one in Edmonton last September — that have security experts grappling with solutions.

Efforts are further along in Europe, which has seen a rash of vehicle attacks across the continent. In the U.K., vehicle rental companies were asked to conduct tougher background checks following two separate van attacks in London last June.

But rental agencies are still limited in how well they can screen customers, said Toby Poston, director of communications at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.

"Members aren't experts at profiling customers," said Poston.

The British association is, however, looking to better co-ordinate with law and security officials to make it easier to share data. Poston said rental agencies wouldn't have access to terror watchlists or the like, but could potentially feed information to authorities for better monitoring.

Member companies are also looking to potentially institute other record searches like credit and criminal background checks, but even then there is no clear way to determine that a vehicle shouldn't be rented, said Poston.



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