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How hard is it to steal a Tesla?

Discussion in 'Technical' started by nexsuperne101, May 21, 2016.

  1. nexsuperne101

    nexsuperne101 Member

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    Hi All,

    I am waiting for my Model 3 to be delivered, but I want to know how good the security is. My Nissan Leaf can be started by sitting in it with the key in my pocket, but if it is in drive mode and I put the keys outside the car, I can still drive off. I don't know how far I could drive, but I got easily to the end of my road (400 yards) without the key. This makes it easy for carjackers! Has Tesla got any such issues? Is it possible to track the car at all times with the onboard GPS to a secure website? That would be useful for 2 things, one is making sure the wife has the dinner ready for when I get in (yeah, right!), and two, if some horrible little oik steals it somehow without the keys, then it would be really easy to track and retrieve.

    I know this may be an affordable car, but it will still be the most money I have ever spent on anything apart from buying my house, so I want it to stay exactly where I leave it.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    There was one stolen that was tracked by the mobile ap on the owner's phone:
    Owners Help Police Track Stolen Tesla Through Mobile App

    Here is an article from last year on the difficulty in stealing a Tesla:
    How Difficult Is It To Steal A Tesla? Harder Or Easier Than A Conventional Car?

    A car jacker would also have to know how to get the car going. Teslas have no place to put a key or even a starter button. You press the brake pedal to start the car. All that does is light up the displays, you have to know that the car is "running" at that point. There is no noise like an engine starting to tell you the car started.

    When I test drove the car my SO sat in the car first just to see if she could see out of the car and it the controls were reachable, etc. She pushed on the brake pedal as part of testing the driver's position and the instruments lighted up, but she didn't realize she had started the car until I pointed it out to here.

    The car also has the "gear shift" on the right side of the steering column which is not common these days. Most car jackers would fumble around a while before figuring out how to get the car moving, which isn't a good career move for a car jacker. With the ability to track the car in real time, the car jacker would also have to figure out how to disable the tracking equipment while speeding away from you or their little jaunt will be rather short.

    There are stories from 2014 that only 4 Teslas have ever been stolen, 3 in 2013 and 1 in 2011 (a Roadster). I know one of the stolen cars was taken from a service center when someone grabbed the key. I believe all the stolen cars were from joy riders. There isn't much of a black market for spare parts, which is the other reason for stealing cars. At this point the few who are buying used Tesla parts can get parts from wrecks.
     
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  3. swesson

    swesson Member

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    I'm thinking the issue isn't as much can a Tesla be stolen as it is can a Tesla STAY stolen. The car generates so much data, both for its owner and for Tesla Motors, that I'm not sure it will stay awol for long. It isn't impossible to disable the owner's visibility and control, but taking Tesla out of the picture would prove very difficult since they likely will know every stop at a supercharger and the location of the vehicle during any software update. Even if those were disabled, it wouldn't be the same car since it would stop getting updates and would be unable to charge at SC's.
     
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  4. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    Any car with a key fob like the Leaf or Tesla will require the key fob be present to start the car, but also allow the car to drive off without it.
    Once you turn the car off, it can't be restarted again without the key present.

    This is so if the key fob stops transmitting while driving down a highway (due to batteries, interference, breakage, etc) the car doesn't immediately quit in the middle of the street.
     
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  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    I suspect that every car is the same: if the car is in drive mode, you don't need the key to drive it.
    My Prius and Volt work that way.

    It's for safety reasons.
     
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  6. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    My first car was a 1967 Chevy where the key slot was wearing out. You could pull the key out while the car was running and it the car would keep humming along. You needed to stick the key back in to shut off the engine though.
     
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  7. nexsuperne101

    nexsuperne101 Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I never thought of the issue of keyfob batteries going flat mid drive. That makes more sense now, but still makes it too easy to get car jacked. Perhaps if there was some sort of check from the car every few minutes of being in drive mode, and then if it didn't get a reaction from the fob, a countdown display would come up with an imminent shut down.
     
  8. Bonlaw

    Bonlaw Member

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    It can be driven away, even when not by a thief. My husband and I left work in different cars at the same time.
    Didn't realize I left the fob in my office until after I got home. My husband's fob let me get in the car and drive off.
    If I had made a stop on the way home, I would have been able to start the car with my phone- luckily.
     
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  9. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    As far as I know the percentage of cars that get carjacked with the fob system is similar to the percentage of cars that get carjacked with the key system, which makes this a non-issue. Professionals won't touch the car because there is no market for stolen Teslas or their parts, so it's only joyriders and they generally don't plan in advance.
     
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  10. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    My main thought is that you need to make sure you use a good password on the Tesla app.

    Since firmware 6.0, a Tesla can be operated entirely without a key by someone with an authenticated smartphone tied to the car who correctly enters the password.

    In theory this might open the car to hacking attacks, but in practice I think anyone who has the sophisticated knowledge and determination to achieve that can probably just buy their own Tesla legally.

    However, if you make the password easy to figure out, that might be different (but still rather unlikely IMO.)
     
  11. Chopr147

    Chopr147 Active Member

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    That would not work for me. I have driven off in my wife's Lexus after dropping her off more than once w/o the fob. I can drive forever as long as I do not turn the car off. I left it running to go into the store or I would have been stuck, but i would not recommend that :) I did have to call her once to come to CVS with the key :) Maybe I should be more careful
     
  12. HankLloydRight

    HankLloydRight Fluxing

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    But in this case, your car is still "jacked". I think you're being overly concerned about this. Do you live in a really bad area where there are a lot of car jackings? The current system works pretty well. You can drive the car as long as you want without the fob until you stop and get out or even just put it in park. Then the car is immobilized. Also, it's totally trackable during that time, so easy to find/recover.

    In fact, in a typical car jacking, assuming you have the key fob on your person, and the jacker tells you to get out of the car, you could probably run far enough away that between the time you get out (and the car goes into PARK automatically), and the time the jacker sits down and tries to drive away, you and your key fob are far enough away so it won't register. Then the jacker is stuck.
     
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  13. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    This really is a nonissue.

    Consider two cases:
    One, a carjacking of a vehicle with a standard key.
    Two, a carjacking of a car with a fob.

    In case one, the carjacker has your car and your key. They drive around as long as they like, stopping and starting as needed.
    In case two, the carjacker doesn't have your key, and can drive once. As soon as they stop, they are done.

    The key fob system is less useful to a thief and therefore less likely to be stolen other than joyriders.
    In that case, it is no more likely to be stolen as a car with a key.
     
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  14. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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    You mean I have to change my 1-2-3-4-5 password!?

    Spaceballs reference, git it, git it...
     
  15. Jin Kazama

    Jin Kazama Member

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    #15 Jin Kazama, May 21, 2016
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
    Most new cars come with telematics (at least, it is a requirement in the E.U.). A "professional" who wants to steal a car would have a $15 LoRa/GSM/3G/4G jammer which would get him plenty of time to disappear and disconnect the battery. There is no demand for Teslas at the moment but wait for them to get out of warranty, on the 2nd hand market. Tesla spare parts & repair prices are insane, there will be a huge 2nd hand market for stolen parts (well, you don't know what you'll buy on craiglist...)

    There is also another market for stolen cars, at least in the EU (they go east or south...) and it's pretty trivial to remove the LTE module/disable WiFi on the car, which would make a perfectly fine offline car...

    I'm not even talking about the batteries which would be interesting on their own (even to be torn apart to be used in other systems...)
     
  16. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    But where did you get an idiot's luggage?
     
  17. Frank Schwab

    Frank Schwab Member

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    I'm less concerned about a carjacking, than I am about the standard remote attack - the thief has an RF transceiver that receives and retransmits the signal from your fob, except it can do it from 30 meters away, not 1. They walk up to the car in your driveway, the transceiver communicates with your fob inside the house, the car thinks the fob is present, and the thief starts the car and drives away. The car is driven directly to the chop shop, and disassembled. The same can be done at your office, at the shopping mall (the thief watches the cars coming in, decides on the one they want to steal, follows you, watches you get out of the car, and they attack while you're walking towards the mall and still in range of their transceiver).

    This is a very difficult attack to protect against, once you go to a Fob-based car start system. I'm hoping Tesla decides to address this, and figure out how to prevent it, before I get my model 3.
     
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  18. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    That only works if the car is unlocked. Key fobs buttons work by transmitting a code that is tied to the car along with a code that changes with each keypress. Both the fob and the car have the same algorithm. If they get out of sync, it may take a few presses of the fob buttons to access the car.

    There have been a few cases where a hacker has recorded the first part of the fob signal and then forced the second part, but it takes time and some luck to hit on the right combination. Cars with key fobs are less likely to get stolen than cars with old fashioned keys.

    Another thing is anyone who would want to chop a Tesla today would go broke. Chop shops target cars that are out on the streets in the millions, especially cars common in third world countries where people are less likely to ask where parts came from.

    What little market there is for used Tesla parts can be easily filled by people parting out wrecks.

    Over the last 15 years or so it's become very difficult to steal a car. Here is a list of the most stolen cars in the US:
    Most Stolen Cars & Other Vehicles | DMV.org

    Note how old most of those cars are.
     
  19. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    My opinion is that this is mostly a non-issue. Car thieves can be broken down into two types: joyriders and those that steal for profit. The joyriders are almost always spur of the moment and do little if any prep work. The stealing for profit are either junkies or professionals. The professionals aren't going to target a Tesla because there isn't any market for the parts--and if there was a market they would use a flatbed rather than crack the fob. The junkies aren't likely to have the mental and/or financial where-with-all to do it. Your chances of being hit by lightning are far higher than having your Tesla stolen by cracking the fob system. Stealing the fob first and then the car is the only practical way to steal a Tesla. This is one of the things I never lose sleep over.
     
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  20. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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