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Tesla Model S – The Impossible Car To Steal?

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Tesla Model S - The Impossible Car To Steal?
Photo credit: pestoverde / Flickr

Electric cars made by Tesla Motors have such a low theft rate that some might consider them almost impossible to steal. Just four Tesla’s in total have been reported stolen in the U.S. since the company first began shipping the pricey eco-friendly vehicles back in 2006. Three of those thefts happened in 2013 while one happened in 2011 according to a Wall Street Journal Market Watch report.

In all the remaining years, not a single Tesla vehicle was reported stolen. The Tesla Model S theft rate of 0.15 per 1,000 cars produced is well below the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s median rate of about 3.6 thefts per 1,000 vehicles.

Proximity sensing technology makes theft near impossible without key fob

There are at least two major reasons for the exceptionally low theft rates according to Market Watch. Firstly, the Tesla Model S is quite simply very hard to steal. Like many modern vehicles, the Model S features a proximity sensing, keyless entry technology.

The Model S can only be opened and started with the key fob in the driver’s possession and in close proximity to the vehicle at all times. The car cannot be started, much less driven away, without the fob.

Internet and GPS connectivity enable remote tracking

The Model S is also a fully Internet connected car, according to Tesla. Each vehicle comes with a wireless network interface that allows the car to send and receive software updates, diagnostic information and other data via the Internet.

Vehicle owners can use the interface to perform tasks like locking and unlocking their car remotely, charging their vehicle shutting down or starting the engine, turning on the headlights or honking the horn. So even if someone does somehow manage to steal a Model S, it is relatively easy to monitor the vehicle from a remote location using an IPhone or an Android smartphone app.

In addition, the Tesla Model S comes equipped with a GPS tracking capability that allows vehicle owners to do real-time tracking of their car using a Tesla software application. The application allows owners to follow and track the exact location of their vehicle even while it is moving, so locating a stolen vehicle becomes a fairly easy task.

Non-existent market for stolen Tesla parts

The second major reason why the Tesla Model S has a near zero-theft rate is because there is no market for stolen Tesla parts. Studies have shown that thieves typically steal cars for their parts. The cars that are most frequently stolen have parts that can be easily sold in the underground market for aftermarket parts.

According to the NHTSA, vehicle thieves make two to four times the value of a vehicle by stripping it and selling its parts separately. Among the parts most coveted by thieves are the engine, transmission, hood, fenders, air bags, batteries and wheels.

With the Tesla Model S however, the market for stolen parts is non-existent because people who can afford to buy a Tesla rarely shop for used car parts. As a result, thieves have very little to gain from stealing a Model S.

Another factor in Tesla’s favor is the fact that thieves tend to stay away from pricey luxury cars in general. Auto theft rates for high-end luxury vehicles like the Infiniti FX35, the Audi A6, Lexus RX 350 and the BMW 5 series are somewhat lower than the national median for auto thefts.

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