Tesla’s vehicles are rarely stolen thanks to its always-on advanced GPS tracking feature. However, there are always a few non-techie thieves or joyriders who make the mistake and it can result 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.
Another example recently happened in Los Angeles thanks to quick thinking from the Tesla owner and his lawyer – though luck was also a large part of how they caught the thief, which leads us to a feature request for Tesla.
Alex Dracup of Dracup & Patterson Law Corporation told Electrek that the firm’s client left his Tesla Model S 70D at a “Secure” parking lot at the Los Angeles Airport before leaving the country. The owner left his key fob with the parking company.
Out of the blue, the owner decided to check on his car with the Tesla mobile app and to his surprise, the vehicle was nowhere near the parking lot.
Instead, it was being driven around in Crenshaw several miles from the airport, Dracup told Electrek.
The owner then reached out to Dracup and gave him access to his Tesla account so he could track the car himself with the Tesla app. He told Electrek:
“Once I got ahold of the police and got access to the Tesla app from the Client, I was able to direct the police to the exact location of the car. The car started to drive and I was giving the operator live updates to its location and they were able to find the car in seconds with the air traffic controller.”
Here are a few screenshots that he took of the app while he was tracking the stolen Model S:
He then says the police were able to send a squad car to intercept the Tesla in a few minutes and pull it over.
According to Dracup, the police were so impressed with his ability to track the car that in the confusion, he thought he worked for Tesla.
They are now investigating what led them to have the key fob and take the vehicle, but the leading theory right now is that it could have been an inside job at the parking lot and more about taking the vehicle on a joyride than actually stealing it for good.
It’s nice to have a good ending to a stolen Tesla story after we reported earlier this year on a series of Tesla vehicle thefts in Europe where the vehicles were never recovered. It even prompted Tesla to work on a new software update to help prevent theft after it was believed that the thieves gained access by hacking the key fob signal.
In the case of the incident in Los Angeles, it’s also important to note that it is pure luck that the owner ended up checking on his car via the app and realized that it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Actually, if it was indeed a joyride and they planned to bring back the car, the owner might have never known.
Dracup pointed out that a location history of the car via the app could be quite useful in those cases. Furthermore, Tesla could also implement a notification function that owners could activate when leaving their car unattended for a while and it could send a notification if the car is moved.
Any other ideas? Let us know in the comment section below.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.