Hertz Customer Thrown in Jail for Rental Car ‘Theft’ a Year After He Returned It: Report

The man, who was aboard a cruise ship that had just docked, reportedly spent over $15,000 with Hertz in the past two years.

byPeter Holderith|
Culture photo


It seems that something is still very wrong at Hertz, the massive car rental company that went bankrupt in the midst of the pandemic following a huge slump in revenue. Since 2019, people have been arrested by police, sometimes at gunpoint, because Hertz claims the rentals they're driving are stolen. In multiple cases, the arrests are allegedly mistaken. Hertz, however, has not taken responsibility for what many claim to be egregious errors on the company's part.

The latest episode in this ongoing saga is extreme. As CBS News reports, a New Hampshire native who was a regular Hertz customer was arrested on a cruise ship docked in Florida after returning from the Caribbean. Authorities arrested the man early in the morning, cuffing him and taking him off the ship to Brevard County Jail, where he remained as of Tuesday. In a phone interview, the man told a CBS News correspondent that his arrest and ongoing detainment is "the most horrific experience of [his] life."

The arrests stem from police reports filed by Hertz which claim a vehicle has been stolen by a former or current customer. It's a shocking number of police reports—documents obtained by CBS allegedly show 8,000 reports of theft per year for the past four years, and claimants say as many as 3,500 of these are "thefts by conversion," which involve the aforementioned current or former customers. These 3,500 reports seem to be causing the allegedly undeserved arrests.

The man arrested after the cruise ship docked reportedly paid somewhere around $15,000 for Hertz's service in 2020 and 2021, which makes the situation even more dumbfounding. "I am one of their best customers. And here I am sitting in jail," he told CBS. As of today, the man will have been in jail for four days without being tried and could stay for as many as 10.

In a statement, Hertz said these situations are "very rare" and "happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer." That doesn't seem to be the case here. The man's attorney says, "Hertz refuses to correct a police report when they've learned payments [were] made, when they've learned the car's been returned or when they've learned there's inaccuracies." So according to him, it's a case of Hertz's incompetence.

In the past, the company has said "It's up to law enforcement to decide what to do with [each] case," but of course, if the entire pretense of an arrest is based on a false or outdated report, that's not right. Hertz refused to comment on this particular case to CBS, but in the past, it has called these lawsuits "meritless," seeking their dismissal on a slew of legal technicalities. 

Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: peter@thedrive.com