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Not All That Glitters Is Tesla Gold: A Fishy Story of Dumb Thieves and a Model 3

Tesla makes some of the smartest, most connected cars out there, offering owners data and invaluable peace of mind even when they’re not inside the car. Tesla thieves, on the other hand, seem to be getting dumber by the day.
We’ve talked about this before, about how Tesla vandals or would-be thieves seem to be a particularly obtuse brand of criminals hating on anything with the Tesla badge but seemingly unaware of the technological upgrades that allow vehicles to film them and alert the owner of what’s happening. This is like a next chapter in the same saga, with a caveat: there’s something slightly off about this (viral) story.

Australian radio host Annabelle Brett tells 9 Now segment A Current Affair that, last week, she had her Model 3 stolen from the garage of her apartment building. She was at home, getting ready for work, when she received an alert on her phone that someone had touched her Tesla and, by the time she got to the garage, the car was gone.

Luckily, Brett explains, she could track the movements of the car through the app. “On my car phone app, you can actually see where the car is,” she says. “We noticed that it was just around the corner so without thinking, I jumped in the car called the police… and just basically followed them on the map.”

During the pursuit, which wouldn’t prove that long to begin with, Brett started messing with the thieves. “My phone app has the ability to slow down the car and also mess with it a bit, so I was able to put the windows down, beep the horn and basically screw with them as they were driving it,” she explains.

Exasperated, they pulled over in an empty parking space, with Brett not that far behind them, in her friend’s car. She yelled at them that the police was on the way, which is when the two thieves decided to ditch the Tesla, so they jumped into the Ford they’d came in and drove off. Brett got the license plate on camera and – get this – one of the thieves’ driver’s license, which he forgot in the driver seat. They also left their tool box behind.

To start off, this entire story seems absurd and, because of it, hard to believe. It’s like a comedy of errors of the kind you only see in silly comedies – think Dumb and Dumber-type of humor. The thieves are dumb enough to pick a Tesla as a mark even though its connectivity is no secret, they’re dumb enough not to shield their faces from CCTV cameras, and they’re dumb enough to leave evidence behind. But they’re somehow able to steal a Tesla and, based on CCTV footage included in the segment, make it disappear. Literally so.

There are holes in the story, like how the thieves were able to drive off with a Tesla, which needs a keycard or access through the app to start. While some assumed Brett had left her card in the handbag the thieves stole, she later said on Twitter that it had been stolen from her house some days earlier. As for why she got the alert on her app if the Model 3 was started with the card, she said one of the dudes tried to jimmy the window, which is when she received the notification.

Assuming she’s telling the truth, it still means she didn’t use the Pin-2-Drive option, which would have prevented the theft from happening altogether.

That aside, Drive Tesla Canada reports that police have one of the thieves, the one who forgot his ID behind at the scene of the crime, in custody and have already identified the other based on surveillance footage. It doesn’t offer any more details beyond that, and no police report number to back it up.

This isn’t to say that the story is entirely fake or a stunt for publicity purposes, as many who have seen it (including passionate Tesla supporters) believe. But it does pose a big question mark over which parts are accurate and which are, simply put, make-believe or, at the very least, should make you take it with a grain of salt.

To be sure, Teslas can – and do – all these things Brett says her Model 3 did. They are incredibly thief-proof, more so than many other vehicles today. It’s also true that car thieves don’t seem to be getting any smarter where Teslas are concerned. Whether this was the case in this particular instance is questionable.


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