In the United States, at least.
You're in a restaurant, enjoying the latest foodie fad: the no-meat-but-still-tastes-like-meat Impossible Burger. It's very good. Finished with your feeding frenzy, you exit the establishment to hop in your Tesla to hunt down a post-meal digestif but, alas, your ride is not where you parked it. The sinking feeling that you've been robbed slowly settles into your subconscious and you collapse to the curb, knowing you will never see your precious battery-powered beast again. Or will you?
Chances are, if you live in the United States, at least, the above scenario would never happen. Well, at least the stolen car part wouldn't. And, if it did, there's a very good chance you'd be reunited with your ride. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), using data collected by the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), since the beginning of time until May of this year, only 139 Tesla vehicles have been stolen in this country. Since they had sold under 200,000 vehicles here by that time, that means one in approximately 1,367 has been stolen. Of those, a grand total of two were never heard from again and one was dramatically crashed by the culprit, who later died of his injuries.
The NICB director of public affairs, Frank Scafidi, calls the recovery rate "...as good as it gets." By contrast, the recovery rate for boosted rides in 2016 was a massive 58.4 percent. Said he of potential thieves, "I’m wondering if the thieves’ intellect might have been overwhelmed just sitting in a Tesla, much less figuring out how to operate it for any length of time."
The key to recovery lies with the GPS tracking technology the company uses. As would-be thieves soon learn, it's difficult to hide a car that's constantly sending out a location signal. Of course, that technology is only useful if a miscreant manages to move it from its parking spot somehow. Besides winching it up onto a flatbed tow truck, the way it seems most thieves have been absconding with the cars is by boosting the signal from the owner's key fob. And now, the automaker has started attacking that ploy as well.
In the Europe, where thieves have had more success, the company sent an email to owners with advice on how to avoid this exploit. As it's likely the method will make its way here, we've included it below.
We would like to share some tips for ensuring the safety of your Tesla. When enabled, our Passive Entry setting will automatically unlock the doors of your Model S when you approach it with your key. Relay attacks, a type of vehicle break-in that can be targeted at vehicles from many manufacturers including Tesla, allows an attacker to transmit a signal from your key in one location to your car in another location, thereby creating the potential for unauthorised access and entry.
You can decrease the likelihood of unauthorised entry by disabling Passive Entry when parked in public spaces or storing your key in a holder which blocks electromagnetic transmissions, such as a RFID-blocking sleeve or Faraday cage.
To disable Passive Entry, touch Controls > Settings > Doors & Locks > Passive Entry > OFF. Please note that you must press the brake pedal to power Model S on before you can change this setting.