Stolen Tesla Recovery Rate Nearly 100%

Tesla Model X


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.


Source: Marketwatch, TeslaMotorsClub

Categories: Tesla

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8 Comments on "Stolen Tesla Recovery Rate Nearly 100%"

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It’s good point for Tesla. I have a doubt about superchargers. If someone stole your car, can use the superchargers for free or must to idenficate himself as registered user before?. Or is the car the registered?.

Every car that charges at a supercharger of course gets identified first, it’s part of the communication protocol when you plug it in.
If it can charge or not is up to Tesla and what their policy is on a stolen car trying to charge. The most obvious policy would be to not let the car charge and call the police to the spot (which they probably have done long before that anyway unless the GPS is disabled somehow).

Thanks Mikael.

Makes you wonder if Tesla could push out an OTA update to stolen vehicles to prevent them from charging PERIOD (and not just at Superchargers). That would definitely stop a thief in their tracks. Though a smart thief would yank all the fuses powering devices connecting the car to the internet.

Model 3 has no fuses, so that might be a little difficult.

It may be difficult for random joy riding kids in the hoods, but some silly fuse or gps/cell tricks are not going to stop auto thieve gangs in Europe with big stolen car market in the East and plenty of experience with mobile tracking systems.

Mobile connections are easily jammed by black market devices, or SIM card is removed in seconds if it is known factory location. Faraday cage vans are also common that deliver car into safe place for disassembly or identity change.

It would be interesting to know how this compares with other GPS enabled vehicles. The links in the marketwatch report just state entire series of vehicles without any differentiation on age. GPS tracking is becoming increasingly standard on many vehicles now with phone apps.

It’s not too different from GM’s OnStar, except it’s in all Tesla vehicles.