Are Tesla Cars Hard To Steal?
Hoover launched the first powered vacuum cleaner over 100 years ago and has become a brand name interchangeable with the name vacuum cleaner. Similarly, Tesla has become a generic term for Electric vehicles (EVs). When someone describes an EV, they will often interchange the term electric vehicle with “like a Tesla.”
Tesla cars are more challenging to steal because they have several security features, Tesla EVs:
- Can’t be hotwired
- Use a pin code
- Have sentry mode
- Have intrusion sensors
- Can be tracked if they are stolen
However, even with all the features, Tesla cars can be stolen.
Tesla vehicles have several systems which make theft more difficult and enable the owner to track the car and identify the perpetrators. Tesla features on insurance companies’ top ten lists of vehicles that do not get stolen; insurers report that Tesla EVs have the best recovery rate if they are stolen.
Table of Contents
Why Tesla Cars are More Difficult to Steal
- Tesla’s are Difficult to Steal As They Can’t Be Hotwired
- Teslas are Difficult to Steal As They Use a PIN Code
- Tesla’s are Difficult to Steal as They Have SENTRY Mode
- Tesla’s are Difficult Targets As They Have Intrusion Sensors
- Tesla’s Can Be Tracked if They are Stolen
- Are Tesla Cars Ever Stolen?
Why Tesla Cars are More Difficult to Steal
Tesla’s are considered one of the most challenging cars for thieves to steal. Being state-of-the-art EVs, they have unique security features that present more of a challenge to thieves.
Tesla’s are Difficult to Steal As They Can’t Be Hotwired
Older cars can be started by hotwiring the ignition; this entails accessing the back of the ignition switch, closing the car’s ignition circuit, and briefly grounding the starter motor circuit until the engine turns over and starts.
Tesla’s system logic does not involve an ignition switch. Teslas are permanently switched on and available for use. To activate the car, the driver follows the following steps.
Step 1: Unlock The Car
There are three ways to enter a Tesla:
- The driver can select the appropriate control on the linked smartphone app.
- A backup key card can be used by laying it flat against the b-pillar (between the front and rear doors), a short distance below the camera.
- Alternatively, a standard Key fob has buttons to open the front and rear trunks, and unlock, lock, and drive the car.
When activated, the exterior lights flash, the mirrors unfold or fold (if Fold Mirrors is on), the horn sounds (if Lock Confirmation Sound is on), and the doors unlock or lock.
If the phone, key card, or key fob are stolen, the driver can disable them electronically and order a replacement in respect of the key card and key fob.
This system is the heart of Tesla security and, theoretically, is a system that thieves cannot hack.
Step 2: To Start Driving
The vehicle gives the driver two minutes to activate the car (by placing his foot on the brake pedal), failing, depending on the model Tesla, the driver must repeat the procedure in the vehicle.
Teslas are Difficult to Steal As They Use a PIN Code
Each owner can set a unique PIN code that must be input before driving the vehicle.
Tesla’s are Difficult to Steal as They Have SENTRY Mode
As Tesla’s already have several cameras built-in for use by the driver assist systems, by activating SENTRY mode, if a suspicious movement of the car is felt, the cameras will start to record the visuals.
Owners can also use SENTRY mode to remotely view their car’s surroundings when it’s parked so they can verify the safety of the environment before returning to the car. The drivers can also sound the vehicle’s horn, flash the lights, and talk through the speaker.
Tesla’s are Difficult Targets As They Have Intrusion Sensors
If the sensors detect a movement within the car, they trigger its alarm. Tesla also has a traditional alarm system installed. When a door, boot lid, or front storage space is opened, the car alarm will be activated while the alarm is set.
Tesla’s Can Be Tracked if They are Stolen
If Tesla’s are stolen in America, the recovery rate is excellent. The system assists law enforcement in two ways:
- The owners can track the vehicle and direct the police to its location.
- With the external cameras and the built-in Dashcam, the vehicle can record the thieves’ identities, making the subsequent court case decisive for the prosecution.
The driver can disable the tracking feature; however, in 2020, Tesla made this more difficult by publishing a software update that requires the owner to enter their Tesla account number before the tracking feature could be disabled.
If thieves want to disable this feature, they now need to know the owner’s account number before doing so.
Are Tesla Cars Ever Stolen?
Unfortunately, irrespective of how many protections there are, a determined criminal will generally find a way to steal the car. If a Tesla is stolen and not recovered, they are not sold on as complete vehicles but invariably are broken down for spare parts.
There Have Been Opportunistic Thefts
There have been cases where owners have had their key cards stolen from their person, and the vehicle has been subsequently “removed.”
Thieves Have Removed the Tesla
Thieves have used low bed trucks, physically lifted the car onboard, and driven away with it.
Thieves May Have Learnt How to Hack the Tesla Software
In November 2021, more troubling events happened. Two Tesla vehicles were stolen from outside the owners’ houses in less than thirty seconds.
The perpetrator walks towards the car in the security video while holding a scanner connected to equipment inside his backpack. The Tesla’s indicator lights flashed, signaling that the vehicle was unlocked as he approached it.
An accomplice got into the car, reversed it onto the road, and drove off. All of this happened in just thirty seconds.
Police suspect that the method the perpetrators used was the following:
- The Tesla key constantly sends signals to check if the vehicle is nearby.
- A third criminal stood near the owner’s house, using equipment that detected the key emissions and recorded and replicated the signal.
- They then transferred the signal to the perpetrator standing near the vehicle, whose equipment used the captured emissions to replicate the key fob.
- They gained, and they drove the car off.
- The tracking system could have been disabled if the perpetrator had accessed the owner’s Tesla account details.
The vehicles stolen in Norway have not been recovered.
The competition between Tesla and the criminal community is heating up. As Tesla continues to improve the vehicles, their opposition actively researches ways to circumvent them.
Despite this, insurers currently rate Tesla as one of the most secure vehicles available; this is a moving target, and both parties’ ability is constantly moving. The best way to ensure a vehicle is secure is to use all its security features while keeping it as physically safe as possible.
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