As we previously reported, Tesla’s vehicles get rarely stolen thanks to its always-on advanced GPS tracking feature, but there are always a few non-techie thieves who make the mistakes and it results in some satisfying justice, like when a Model S was briefly stolen in Vancouver and the owner gave live-instructions to the police while they were catching up with the thief.
But there are also some professional car thieves who know exactly what they are doing.
They have apparently been targeting Tesla vehicles over the past few months in Europe and managed to get away with quite a few of them. Now Tesla is reportedly pushing a new software update to try to prevent future thefts.
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Last year, we reported on two separate events of new Tesla vehicles being stolen in Europe and they were never recovered.
It was never clear how exactly they were stolen. In each case, the key fobs weren’t stolen and the vehicles not trackable, which means that the thieves either have an unknown sophisticated way to start and drive the car, or they managed to quietly tow it.
The leading theory is that they gained access through hacking the key fob or Tesla app of the owner and they quickly removed the Sim card or used a GPS blocker to prevent tracking.
The vehicles were likely quickly dismantled for parts and earlier this year, we got proof of that after a Tesla Model S stolen in the Netherlands was found dismantled inside a truck trying to get into Germany.
This theft was apparently only one in a series of Tesla being stolen the Netherlands recently – much more than in recent years.
Dutch news site nrc.nl reports that 11 Model S sedans were recently stolen in the country. They talked to Martijn Boss whose Tesla got stolen in Heemstede last month and he was told by the police that it was the ninth Tesla stolen in the region that week alone. The local police also said that those vehicles are often dismantled into parts within two hours of being stolen, which sounds almost impossible.
After looking at his security camera, another Tesla owner in Heemstede said that he saw “a man lingering around the vehicle with cap, scarf and laptop” before he drove away with the car moments later.
The publication got a comment from Jon McNeill, Tesla President of sales and service, about the situation. He said that the method used is not unique to Tesla:
“The method used by the thieves is also used to steal other cars,”
While it’s still not clear, the theory of a “relay device” that serves as a link between the car and the key fob would make the most sense here.
Interestingly, Tesla is reportedly pushing a new software update to fix the issue. We asked for more information and we will update if we get an answer.
Update: We are told Tesla is not actually pushing a new update right now, but it is developing a software fix.