Tesla Vandals Seem to Be Particularly Obtuse

Vandalism is generally defined as a “willful or malicious damage or destruction of the property of another.” Tesla vehicles have seen plenty of that, and a multitude of incidents of this kind have made headlines in 2019, after the introduction of Sentry Mode in mid-February of the same year.
Tesla Model 3 9 photos
Photo: Tesla
Tesla Model 3Tesla Model 3Tesla Model 3Tesla Model 3Tesla Model 3Tesla Model 3Tesla Model 3Tesla Model 3
Returning to your car in the parking lot to find it slightly dented or scratched is not that uncommon: most drivers have had it happen to them at least once, probably. In most cases, you assume that someone backed up into you or accidentally scratched your car when parking their own vehicle, and then were too cowardly to fess up.

Most incidents of this kind can be shrugged off, if your car is not that expensive or the damage is minor. After all, what can you do to catch the douchebag who couldn’t even bother to leave a note? And even if you caught him or her, should you really be that angry over something that was, most likely, an honest to God accident?

Things are different if you drive a Tesla. For starters, Tesla cars and Tesla as a carmaker tend to elicit a very divisive and passionate response: you can either love them with a passion or hate them, and there seems to be no middle ground. Regardless of their merits (or lack of), all Tesla-related things always get a rise from the public at large, both good and bad. 

Tesla Model 3
Photo: Tesla
This can probably explain the spate of vandalism incidents that specifically targeted Teslas in 2019, many of which made headlines after being captured by the cameras in Sentry Mode and posted online in order for the owner to find the vandal. These people, the vandals, know exactly what they are doing and, most importantly, who they’re doing it to. Watching at least a handful of these videos, you get the distinct feeling that their hatred for Tesla cars and Tesla owners runs deep, unmitigated, unstoppable.

And incredibly stupid.

If you hate something this much, you might as well educate yourself about it, right? You would think that these Tesla vandals, for all their dislike of the fancy all-electric car, would know that it comes with an around-the-clock alarm system that kicks in the moment it detects an immediate threat. That’s what Sentry Mode is and its abilities have been covered extensively both in the media and on social media by Tesla owners. It seems almost unfathomable that these Tesla vandals never even heard of it.

Sentry Mode is Tesla’s way of using all the equipment strapped on it to prevent a crime against it or, at the very least, to document it happening. The sensors, the cameras and the computer keep an eye out when the car is locked and parked, and go into alert when they detect a possible threat. In Standby mode, that means recording footage when someone gets too close to the car or leans on it. Or when they key it, like it happened in all these incidents referred to here.

Tesla Model 3
Photo: Tesla
In Alert mode, that entails blinking lights, sounding the alarm and even playing music at maximum volume. This usually happens when the suspicious person tries to do something to the car, like forcibly open it or smash their way into it.

So here you have people with a massive dislike for Tesla cars, casually walking up to them with their keys in their hand, keying them, and then walking away. Their every movement is caught by the car’s cameras because, naturally, owners have Sentry Mode activated. Footage is then released to the media and sent to the police and, in many of these instances, the vandals were actually caught.

Car vandalism, though common, rarely results in arrest. For one, police have nothing to work with in terms of a suspect, or if they do, they probably think they have bigger fish to fry. Media pressure may have helped in the case of the keyed Teslas, but police have been efficient in catching (some) of the vandals.

Which, again, begs the question: how can these Tesla vandals be so obtuse?

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Elena Gorgan
Elena Gorgan profile photo

Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories