Considering how expensive some of Tesla Motors’ offerings are, one can’t help but sometimes wonder how difficult it would be to steal one (or is that only me?). With all of the options concerning remote vehicle access through the internet, perhaps easier than your average everyday Toyota? That said, what would one even do with a stolen Tesla? The company does reportedly make use of a remote disabling system when dealing with stolen units, after all — and it’s not like you’re going to sell one for spare parts.
Important questions. For some of us anyways….
On that note, a recent discussion on the Tesla Motors Club forum covered that exact topic, and fielded some interesting replies and comments. Below are a couple of the ones that stood out the most to me.
A Tesla would be very hard to steal in the conventional “hot wire” way, but could be potentially easier to steal in different ways. Aside from breaking into someone’s house and stealing the keys, it might be easier to steal the “digital keys”. All you need is a smart phone like an iPhone and to social engineer an attack on someone’s user account. Getting user account logins and passwords is old school hacking and there are many ways it can be done. Basically it is an IT security risk. Get an owner to inadvertently disclose the username and password to the Tesla account, then they can use the Tesla iPhone app to find the car, unlock and remotely start the car then turn off remote access then drive away.
That would of course lead to you having the car but without the keys — and with one angry former Tesla owner furiously contacting the authorities and/or Tesla. I can’t imagine that situation working out well for someone over anything but the very short term.
“mikeash” contributed this:
Pretty much any newer car is really hard to steal. If you look at the statistics for car theft, the most stolen car models are popular, reliable models from the late 90s, because they’re still relatively easy to steal, and provide a decent ROI. Late 90s Honda Accords are stolen at a rate of about 50,000/year in the US. The most stolen new car is stolen at a rate of a few hundred per year. New cars have fancy things like immobilizers that authenticate the key with the engine control computer, so a simple hotwiring is a thing of the past.
If a new car is stolen, it’s probably because the key got stolen, often as part of a home burglary, or because the driver left it running. You can potentially do fancy hacks like breaking in through the cellular connection or using a relay to “borrow” the driver’s key fob without their knowledge, but very few thieves will bother.
How does the Tesla compare to other modern cars? I don’t know! It’s probably similar, but I don’t know that the relative differences matter much one way or another.
My favorite comment, though, came from “DGM73” over in Spain, who stated:
In my country, the most usual reason for stealing a car is to forcefully land the stolen car in the storefront of a luxury shop and then proceed to burglarize it, not giving a second thought about the now abandoned stolen car laying there. This is usually done with big robust cars (audis preferred). I would think that a Tesla could qualify, although here they attract too much atention…
That’s a funny one. Can you imagine somewhere stealing a Tesla P85D simply so that they could smash their way into luxury goods store? That certainly makes for an interesting image in my mind… I wonder what the Tesla owner in question would do to the thief if they witnessed that? 🙂
Here’s one more comment, from “Chris TX,” to perhaps close out the Tesla discussion:
There are multiple handshake sessions that happen at multiple frequencies between the fob and the car. The act of walking up to your car, opening the door, and starting it utilizes an impressive array of infrastructure components. The only way someone is going to steal your car is by brute force towing, stealing the fob, or stealing an unlocked phone AND knowing your PIN#. Even sniffing the wifi over an open network would reveal an encrypted VPN tunnel that would need to be cracked. Even then, the hacker would need to be listening at the precise moment you use your phone to start your car.
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