Tesla owner stops carjacking, thanks to connected Model 3 and dumb thief

A Tesla owner stopped a carjacking, thanks to his connected Model 3 preventing the thief from leaving with the car or even exiting it.

The Barstow Police Department announced yesterday that a carjacking suspect had been arrested, and they shared an interesting story about the crime on their Facebook page:

On May 8, 2020, at approximately 10:20 a.m., officers were dispatched to the 400 block of East Fredricks Street regarding a vehicle theft in progress. The reporting party stated that while he was sitting inside his Tesla T3 vehicle, a subject opened the driver’s side door and began screaming at him to get out of the car. The subject made the victim get out of his vehicle and then attempted to steal it. The victim stated that he was able to use his cellular phone to turn the vehicle’s engine off and lock the subject inside of the vehicle. As officers arrived on scene, they observed a subject, later identified as Charlie Smith, in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Officers made contact with Smith and placed him under arrest. When officers placed Smith under arrest, they observed that he was sweating profusely and was twitching and blinking his eyes rapidly. Smith’s behavior was also erratic and combative. Smith was placed under arrest for carjacking and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

It sounds like there was some miscommunication between the police and the Tesla owner since the vehicle doesn’t have an “engine” and it can’t be turned off with the app.

Electrek’s Take

While I don’t know for sure, here’s what I think actually happened.

The owner was using his Model 3 with his phone. When the carjacker kicked him out of the car, he got out of range with the phone, which prevented the car from being put in “drive” — hence leading to the comment about turning the “engine off.”

As for locking the thief in, I am not sure what he means by that because you can’t really lock someone inside the car. You should always be able to use the manual release, which people sometimes even use inadvertently.

However, it sounds like the thief was on some drugs, and he might not have been able to get himself out because of his state of mind.

A previous report showed that stolen Tesla vehicles in the US have almost all been recovered: 112 out of 115.

In Europe, they have some more sophisticated thieves that managed a string of Tesla vehicle thefts through relay attacks, and most vehicles haven’t been recovered.

In response to those attacks, Tesla started rolling out extra layers of security with “improved cryptography” key fob and optional “PIN to Drive” feature.

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