Home » Can a Tesla be Stolen? (YES, Here’s How & How to be Safe!)

Can a Tesla be Stolen? (YES, Here’s How & How to be Safe!)

Driving a Tesla is a dream for many, but there’s one question that might pop into your head: can a Tesla be stolen?

Given the cutting-edge technology and security features in these electric vehicles, you might wonder if they’re impossible to steal.

In this article, I am going to answer that question as well as help you understand the various security features available on Tesla vehicles, how thieves steal Tesla vehicles, how to protect your Tesla from theft and what to do if your Tesla is stolen. 

Let’s get started!

Can a Tesla Be Stolen?

While Teslas are more difficult to steal compared to traditional cars, it’s not entirely impossible.

In the US, between 2016 and 2017, 115 Teslas were indeed stolen, but due to Tesla’s advanced tracking software, 112 of those vehicles were successfully recovered and returned to their owners.

The security measures, including keyless entry, remote monitoring, and continuous software updates, significantly lower the chances of your Tesla being stolen.

However, it’s essential to stay vigilant and be aware of potential threats like relay attacks, where thieves might try to exploit vulnerabilities in your vehicle’s key fob or smartphone app.

To ensure the safety of your Tesla, you should familiarize yourself with its security features and keep your software up to date.

By understanding how these features work and being proactive in your vehicle’s security, you can confidently enjoy the benefits of owning a Tesla while minimizing the risk of theft.

Understanding Tesla Technology: Security Features and Systems

When it comes to vehicle security, Tesla has implemented advanced technology to help protect your car from theft.

In this section, we’ll focus on various features available in Tesla models such as Model S, Model X, Model Y, and Model 3.

1. Keyless Entry

Tesla’s keyless entry system uses a combination of a key card, a key fob, or your smartphone to allow you access to your car without using a traditional key.

This innovative approach adds an extra layer of security to prevent unauthorized access to your vehicle.

Key Card: A credit card-sized device that comes with your Tesla allows you to unlock and start the car by simply tapping it against the driver’s side B-pillar and placing it on the center console. This passive security measure can deter potential thieves, as it requires proximity to your vehicle to function.

Key Fob: Available for Model S and Model X owners, the key fob provides a more convenient way to access your car. With it in your possession, you can simply walk up to your car, and the doors will unlock automatically.

The key fob also offers additional buttons for opening the trunk, the frunk, and even summoning the car. The built-in encryption technology adds another layer of security, making it difficult for criminals to replicate or bypass.

Smartphone: Tesla’s mobile app allows you to control and monitor your vehicle from your phone. You can lock and unlock your car, start the engine, summon it, and more.

The app requires a secure login, and this added layer of protection means that potential thieves would need access to your smartphone and credentials to compromise your vehicle’s security.

2. GPS Tracking Capability

As a Tesla owner, one of the most useful security features you’ll benefit from is the GPS tracking capability. Tesla has incorporated GPS tracking into their vehicles since their early days, making it difficult for thieves to steal your car without being traced.

This feature works by providing you with real-time data on your vehicle’s location, which can be accessed through the Tesla smartphone app.

When you first pick up your Tesla, you will be encouraged to download the appropriate app for your model and pair it with your car. This easy-to-use app allows you to monitor your car’s location at all times, giving you peace of mind about its safety.

In the unfortunate event that your Tesla is stolen, you can immediately use the GPS tracking information to alert the police of your car’s whereabouts. This real-time data significantly increases the chances of recovering your vehicle swiftly, making it a powerful security feature.

Additionally, you may also need to authorize the vehicle before it can be driven, meaning that the thief would need to have access to your smartphone or key fob for the vehicle to work. This extra layer of security adds to the anti-theft features in your Tesla, keeping it safe from potential thieves.

3. Sentry Mode

Sentry Mode is an advanced security feature in your Tesla that uses the car’s external cameras to monitor the surroundings when the car is parked.

When activated, Sentry Mode will detect potential threats and send a notification to your smartphone if an incident occurs.

This system offers additional protection for your vehicle, especially when parked in unfamiliar or high-crime areas.

Additionally, the recorded footage can be used as evidence in case of any unfortunate events such as a break-in or vandalism.

4. PIN-to-Drive System

The PIN-to-Drive System is another security feature that adds an extra layer of protection to your Tesla.

This system requires you to enter a unique personal identification number (PIN) before your car can be driven.

By enabling the PIN-to-Drive System, even if a thief manages to gain access to your vehicle, they won’t be able to start the car without knowing your PIN. It’s a simple yet effective way to keep your car safe and secure.

5. Security Updates

Tesla is known for its continuous over-the-air software updates, which not only improve the performance of the car but also enhance its security features.

These updates often include improvements to existing security systems, such as Sentry Mode and the PIN-to-Drive System, as well as the addition of new features or functionalities.

By staying on top of these updates, you’re ensuring that your Tesla remains protected with the latest advancements in vehicle security.

How Thieves Steal Tesla Vehicles

As a Tesla owner, you might wonder about the possibility of your car being stolen. While Teslas are considered to be more secure than many other vehicles, thieves have been known to use a specific method called a “relay attack” to steal them.

A relay attack involves a pair of criminals who work together, using specialized equipment to intercept and amplify the signal between your Tesla’s key fob or mobile app and the car itself. One thief positions themselves near your key fob or phone, while the other stands close to your Tesla.

They then relay the key fob’s signal to the car, tricking it into thinking that the key is nearby, allowing them to unlock and start the vehicle.

It’s important to note that this kind of attack requires the thieves to be quite close to both your car and the key fob or phone, sometimes as close as two inches from your phone or key card. This means that the risk of a relay attack is generally higher when you park your Tesla in public or easily accessible locations.

To protect against relay attacks, consider taking the following precautions:

  • Store your key fob or phone in a signal-blocking pouch when not in use.
  • If possible, keep your car and the key fob or phone far apart, especially when parked in public spaces.
  • Enable “Pin to Drive” feature on your Tesla, which requires entering a PIN on the touchscreen before the car can be driven.

By understanding how thieves use relay attacks and implementing precautionary steps, you can help ensure your Tesla’s security.

How to Protect Your Tesla from Thieves

As a Tesla owner, safeguarding your car from theft should always be a priority.

Here are some effective measures you can take to ensure the security of your prized vehicle.

Using Tesla App

One of the first steps you should take is making good use of the Tesla app. This app has a range of features that help you track and control your Tesla from anywhere:

  • GPS tracking: This allows you to locate your car if it’s ever stolen, giving you an added layer of security.
  • Remote locking: You can lock or unlock your car directly from your smartphone, ensuring it stays locked when you’re not around.

In addition to these features, consider activating a secure method to access your Tesla, such as using key cards or enabling Tesla’s “pin-to-drive” feature.

This adds an extra layer of security, preventing unauthorized users from driving away with your car.

Monitoring with Cameras

Another effective way to protect your Tesla is by utilizing its built-in cameras.

These cameras serve multiple purposes, including capturing footage of potential thieves and providing evidence in case of theft.

  • Tesla Sentry Mode: This feature uses the car’s external cameras to monitor its surroundings when it’s parked. If Sentry Mode detects a potential threat, it will begin recording, saving the footage, and alerting you via the mobile app.
  • Dashcams: Consider installing a separate dashcam for continuous monitoring and recording while driving. This can provide useful evidence in case of any incidents.

Tesla vs Other Cars’ Security Systems

When comparing the security systems of Teslas and other cars, you’ll find that Teslas have several unique features that help protect them from theft. These advanced security mechanisms make stealing a Tesla more difficult compared to an average car or even other luxury brands like BMW.

For instance, Tesla vehicles come with a keyless system and built-in tracking. This combination makes it challenging for thieves to steal a Tesla and get away with it for long periods. On the other hand, an average car often relies on traditional key systems and might not have built-in tracking, making them more susceptible to theft.

Another security feature that sets Tesla apart is the PIN-to-drive function. This feature requires you to enter a personal identification number before being able to drive the vehicle. Coupled with the key fob and mobile app access, Tesla vehicles have multiple layers of protection. In contrast, many other cars don’t offer such an additional security measure.

Tesla vehicles also have GPS tracking, allowing owners to monitor their car’s real-time location using a mobile app. This feature is not commonly found in average cars, and while some luxury models like certain BMWs may offer similar tracking capabilities, they might not be as user-friendly or precise as Tesla’s system.

However, it’s essential to note that despite these advanced security features, Teslas are not immune to theft. Some methods, like relay attacks, can be used by thieves to steal Tesla vehicles, although they require more effort and coordination.

Reporting a Stolen Tesla

If you discover that your Tesla has been stolen, it’s essential to remain calm and take the necessary steps to report the theft. Your Tesla is equipped with advanced security features that make it difficult to steal, but in the unfortunate event it does happen, here’s what you should do.

Firstly, contact the police and file a report about your stolen Tesla. This step is crucial as it helps law enforcement to track the vehicle down with the information you provide. Make sure to have your vehicle’s information, such as the make, model, license plate number, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on hand when reporting the theft. The police will need these details to identify your car.

Once you have filed a police report, use the Tesla mobile app to track your vehicle. Your Tesla will transmit its location to your phone, and you can relay this information to the police department. By doing so, they can dispatch officers to intercept and apprehend the thieves.

In addition to the mobile app’s tracking feature, you can enable the “PIN to Drive” security feature on your Tesla. This option requires a valid PIN code to be entered on the touchscreen before the vehicle can be driven. Activating this feature makes it even more challenging for thieves to make off with your car.

As a Tesla owner, you can rest assured that your vehicle is equipped with state-of-the-art security features to deter and prevent theft. By acting quickly and following these steps to report the stolen car, there is a high chance of recovering your precious Tesla safely and promptly.