Tesla Model S “Weird Back Seat” Prompts False Kidnapping Reports


This isn’t the first time that the Tesla Model S’ rear-facing seats have prompted a run in with the police and it probably won’t be the last.

Way back in the good ol’ days, rear-facing seats were rather common in full-size wagons, but nowadays these “jump seats” are basically a thing of the past. That is, unless you own a Model S. Then rear-facing seats are optional.

Tesla Model 3 Pulled Over By Police For “Computer” On Dash

The Signal is reporting that the Model S’ rear-facing seats led to false reports of kidnapping over the weekend:

“Reports of a kidnapping in Newhall came in to the SCV Sheriff’s Station at 12:49 p.m., but the alleged abduction was just someone loading a child into a Tesla’s back seat, officials said.”

SCV police lieutenant Rob Hahnlein issued a few comments on the situation:

“It was not a kidnapping.”

“The new Teslas have a weird back seat and when they put the (child) in the back seat it looked like they were putting them in the trunk.”

Not knowing initially if it was a kidnapping, police responded as trained and approached the vehicle, which they located shortly after the initial call into 911, with guns drawn. Hahnlein commented:

“We’re going to investigate (a kidnapping) and detain whoever until we figure out that it is not a crime.”

“We’re not Tesla experts.”

Once police were aware of the actual situation, the Tesla owner was released.

Awhile back, similar calls came into 911 and the police response was caught on an at-home surveillance system (see video below):

Source: The Signal

Categories: Tesla


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42 Comments on "Tesla Model S “Weird Back Seat” Prompts False Kidnapping Reports"

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I’ve read it gets too hot in the jump seats -true? I live in PA and would live to have an effective third row without a van or SUV.

But then my three-year-old might not be 35 pounds for years, either.

@Spoonman – I don’t have a rear facing seat but from reading on different forums it does seem to get a little warmer than most would like. There are several powered venting devices(fans) available that help get A/C to the back and reportedly they work well.

This video is not new.

If one would bother to read before commenting…one would notice:

“Awhile back, similar calls came into 911 and the police response was caught on an at-home surveillance system (see video below):”

Get over yourself

Instead of a “lol, my bad” you posted that?

I see Clive was inspired by Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer impression, and decided to give it a try himself…

“New” is YOUR word, not CLIVE’s. YOUR word!

He only said “Get over yourself” so that YOU could apologize to HIM. And your apology is NOT ACCEPTED. Sit down, Glen!



I replied, and the mod of the hour got excited accordingly


Way to double down on your mistake.

Next time try: “my mistake, thanks for the correction”.

Or: say nothing if you can’t swing that.

umad CLIVE?


Perhaps we need an info card handout for confused police departments.

No kidding!

If I read this right: “We’re going to investigate (a kidnapping) and detain whoever until we figure out that it is not a crime.” and “Once police were aware of the actual situation, the Tesla owner was released.”

…then the police actually arrested the Tesla owner or driver, hauled him or them down to the local jail, and locked him/them up. The victim(s) may not have been officially charged, so hopefully it won’t give him/him something on his/their permanent record, but this is more than just a bit of an inconvenience.

Is it really that rare to see someone putting children into the back of a station wagon or “liftback sedan”? Back when I was a kid, on one of my many holiday visits to my grandpa’s farm, we would pile into the back of a pickup and ride off to town. No air bags or seat belts back there, nor even seats! I suppose these days, a dad (or uncle or grandfather) would be arrested for child endangerment!

These youngsters these days! (…and by “youngster” I mean anyone under 50.) 😉

As a kid in the seventies, my siblings and I would ride in the cargo area of Mom’s Oldsmobile wagon, and it didn’t have seats let alone seat belts. And so did our middle-class peers. In retrospect it’s fairly terrifying, but there you go.

Good lord. I’m not as middle-aged as I used to be…

Heck, I rode across Iowa in the cargo area of a VW Karmann Ghia* station wagon, which was pretty tiny as station wagons go. As I recall, I was 15, so that would have been 1970 ±1.

Nobody gave a thought to not having seat belts back in those days.

*oddly enough, Spellcheck was absolutely no help with that… 😉

To say that the driver was detained, doesn’t necessarily imply jail. Just stopping them by the side of the road (or wherever) for a while is “detaining”, and that’s probably what happened here.

Not that I want to defend this.

Well, I hope you’re right. To me, the words “detained” and “released” imply more than just a traffic stop and a wait while the cop consults his supervisor via radio or cellphone.

Yeah detained means stay here and don’t move while I figure this out. Arrested means you’re in the back of the car and going to jail. Handcuffs are optional on the detained part.

It means what they call a “felony stop”. Guns drawn, detailed instructions to get out of the car (but sometimes confusing), handcuffs, the works. It happened to some friends of mine vacationing in Florida a year ago. Plate error made by police and they thought the car was stolen. Instead they terrified a family with a small daughter.
Cops later apologized, but still, very dangerous. Worst point was when the man was instructed to get out of the car, so he reached to disconnect the seatbelt.
At any rate, they were “detained” for a few minutes, then released, but not booked, etc.

When I was little on road trips I would crawl up to the back window area of our Lincoln Continental to get away from my older brother and sister and lay on my side to take a nap.

And of course with anyone that had a pickup we would beg to ride in the back.

That brings back memories!

Yeah, it was always a lot more fun to stretch out in the back of a pickup, sitting on an old tire or a bale of hay, than to sit in front crammed between two or three adults.

It is not how it works in the US. Once (if) he got arrested and booked, he got public mugshot and arrest record basically forever. Some time later it may (or not) be sealed in police database, but there are plenty of extortionist like websites all over the place, and his name and photo will be all over the internet forever, unless he pays $$$ each of them, which I doubt would be easy, as there are too many of people willing to extort. Next, try getting new work or even rental apartment with such internet “history” of “kidnapping”, even if official background check shows nothing. I suspect you may have hard time to find somebody even talk with you after submitting CV to some places, even if legally they should only use official background check 🙁 That is how presumption of innocence looks in practice :/ May sound like medieval ages for somebody in Europe, but that is how it is in the US. Don’t get into argument with police. On the positive note, he is lucky guy that paranoid 911 called didn’t reported some gun, then he may just got shot if he wouldn’t hear or understand police… Read more »

That is what happens when you try to extend a “hatchback/fast back” into a “wagon like” design for not much real reason…

Sure, the bonus seat was a good thing when there wasn’t a Model X. But I seriously doubt people still order 5+2 configuration now that Model X is available…

Of course, Tesla would probably won’t release that information. We will only know once Tesla decides to cancel that option.

Speak for yourself. Personally, I’d much rather have a Model S than a Model X. And for those with large families, the jump seats certainly make sense.

I would, however, install some sort of fan or other air circulation device in back, as there have been reports of kids getting seriously overheated on hot days back there. The ventilation in that rear area clearly isn’t adequate with the factory installation.

I am speaking for myself and my family. When you have kids and need to carry them often, then Model X is naturally a better choice than Model S in term of practicality of carrying 7 people often.

That is despite the fact I hate how Model X looks, its falcon doors and all the gimmicks on the car. I also love Model S far more than Model X. But from a people carrying comfort point of view, Model X is better than Model S.

E.g. Chrysler Pacifica (plugin or not) has over 160 cu.f. volume instead of 94 c.f. passenger volume like Model X, S, or 2015 Prius. And seats 7 persons of whatever size, not just kids while they are small.


All this for half the price of X.

Guns drawn is a dangerous game. If this was black family, the guy could easily turn to swiss cheese. I’m no BLM guy, but cops have especially itchy trigger finger around blacks.

Well, that’s what media would have you believe at least.

Mercedes E350 wagons were the other car in US with rear facing seats. The new model will probably offer this as well.

I found a web page (linked below) which shows a Saab with rear facing seats, as well as showing the Ford Country Squire wagon, which had side-facing seats in the rear which also were accessed via the tailgate.

Rear-facing seats were never common, but in a previous generation loading kids into the back of a station wagon — with or without rear jump seats — certainly did not invite calls the the police!


Yes, Station wagons!

That is exactly the argument that I had with Nix about classification how cars with rear facing jump seats should be classified as wagons!!!! So, Model S would be considered as “midsize” instead of “full size”.

I ain’t gonna touch that argument with a ten-foot charging extension cord. The difference between “large mid-sized car” and “small luxury car” is absolutely and entirely arbitrary.

TBH, the Officers at the Newhall Police Department in general, aren’t known for being too bright. But their local history probably explains why they act rather aggressively paranoid.

Look up Newhall Massacre.

My first negative experience with them, was when they gave me a hassle simply because I was new to the area, and used the outside ATM of my bank to withdraw cash in the evening.

The police asked for his ID.

Such a racket !

My uncle had one of those land-yatch station wagons with the rear facing seats. As a kid we all fought to sit back there. Every now and again we’d see another one like it and look for kids in the “way back” as we called it.
Back then I don’t remember us ever being pulled over for being kidnapped.

What changed?

Not all of these old station wagon look like Model S with seats in trunk. Many of them are long enough and these back seats are just like normal seats with space around them.
Anyway, they are almost extinct now.

…excuse me? =_=

What the hell, John C. I think you took a wrong turn. You were supposed to take a hard right at 4chan.

You will pass infowars on your left until hitting the intellectual dead end. Then take the alternative route on your right to reach Breitbart.

You must love your Tesla car much more than your kids to stuff them into trunk. Any tailgaiting moron with a truck unable to stop behind you as fast as Tesla, and they’ll get squashed.

Just get proper minivan or bigger SUV if you need to carry more than 3 kids in the back. It will continue to work when kids get bigger too.

Would someone please tell the cops that “weapons drawn” is a menace to our society? Have we learned nothing from Barney Fife of Mayberry PD? Lethal force is not needed in nearly every encounter, yet it is a standard technique in most precincts. I hope every PD requires Critical Incident Training by year’s end. The police have just soiled their reputation in front of a new generation again. “Cops point guns at people, it is what they do.” That’s what the kids learned here.

Police gets shot every day and those who are not ready to shoot first, get dead very quickly. No training will force them to act suicidal.

Why does anybody, especially the police, think that just because kids are facing the rear, that they are kidnapped? I could see an argument that they might be pulled over to verify that they are properly strapped in with approved seat belts, but kidnapped? Really??

Everyone wants to be a hero. Especially if they are saving innocent children from a terrible villian.