Do Electric Cars Get Stolen? Things to Avoid: With Stats

Electric vehicles often feature a mix of cutting-edge technology, which makes them stand out compared to internal combustion engine variants. One aspect that has received a lot of praise in recent times is the security systems, but do they actually make EV’s harder to steal?

Electric cars do get stolen but they are harder to steal compared to combustion engine vehicles. EV manufacturers have built-in a raft of theft prevention measures to dissuade thieves from attempting to steal these cars. Most of the time, the few EVs that get stolen are recovered quickly.

EV manufacturers have put up several obstacles in place to make these models less attractive to car thieves. Read on to know how frequent EV theft is and whether you can do something about it.

Why Teslas and Other EVs Are Hard To Steal 

EVs are harder to steal for several reasons. Here are some of the most important ones:

Electric Vehicle Ignitions Are More Secure

Innovations in software engineering means that EV ignitions are more secure than their ICE counterparts. Some brands like Tesla now have the Pin to Start option, which mandates a driver to enter a pin before the car will start. Unless the car thief knows the pin, it’s impossible to move the car once this feature is active. 

EV Towing Is More Difficult

Towing an electric car without the owner’s knowledge is difficult. For example, in a Tesla vehicle, the surveillance motion cameras on the car will trigger alarms once there’s a change to the car tilt. The car owner will also receive a call once the car is lifted. Overall, the EV owner has ample warning and reaction time. 

If you’d like to find out if you can Tow an Electric Car if it Breaks Down, check out this related article. We discussed everything you should and shouldn’t do.

Electric Car Door Locks Can’t Be Picked

Today, many EVs feature retractable door handles, which will only appear if you have the key to the car. With standard lock buttons removed, it’s hard for a thief to use any special tools to break into the car. On EVs without retractable handles, unlocking is typically completed digitally. 

EV Car Owner Charging Behavior Is a Deterrent

Most EV car owners only charge their vehicles in designated charging stations or at a service center. These stations are usually located in well-lit areas with high foot traffic. Car thieves are unlikely to attempt stealing in such an environment. 

Vehicles are Protected While the Battery is Charging

In addition to some of the security features, we’ve covered above, charging stations also feature cable locks which require a card to release both ends of the charging cable. 

Forceful disconnection by driving away with the car is also unlikely since many electric cars disconnect the power motor while charging. Also, cutting the cable while the EV is charging will lead to massive electric shock. It takes a lot of insulation to withstand the high voltage running through those cables, and the average thief can’t come up with such gear. 

Even when charging at home, the situation is the same. The charging cable stays locked, discouraging theft. The thief may also have to find a way through a locked garage first. 

One Pedal Driving May Be Confusing for Thieves

Most EVs now support “one-pedal” driving where decelerating serves the dual function of charging the battery and reducing the vehicle speed. The braking technique is easy to learn, but inexperienced thieves may find it off-putting. This may make them ditch the car quickly if they find a way to get in. 

With the sheer number of hoops to jump to steal one of these cars, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be a victim.

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, only 115 Teslas were stolen between 2011 and 2018—an average of 16 cars per year. Out of that number, 97% were recovered (112).

Compared to conventional vehicles, only 58% of stolen units were recovered in the same timeframe.

Here’s a video showing how hard it is to steal a Tesla.

The Number of Electric Cars Stolen Yearly

EVs are generally more expensive compared to similar ICE models. Ordinarily, you’d expect the demand for EV parts to be high enough to justify the stealing of these vehicles. After all, even plain metal is easy money for organised thieves. However, it’s not that straightforward. 

The parts supply chain isn’t as developed as you’d get with conventional vehicles. There are two reasons for this: 

  • There are only a few high-demand parts in EVs. 
  • EV manufacturers perfectly meet any demand, so people have very little reason to shop for aftermarket parts.

The result is that there aren’t many cases of EV theft per year. Data showed that electric vehicles from a variety of manufacturers have lower theft claim rates than comparable ICE vehicles.

Vehicle ModelRelative Theft Claim Frequency (100 is average)
Subaru Forester20
GMC Acadia19
Subaru Legacy17
Buick Encore15
Chevrolet Equinox15
Tesla Model X12
Tesla Model S11
BMW 3-series4
Report from the Highway Loss Data Institute for 2016 -2018—highlighted in this table above— showed EVs made up a small portion of vehicle theft within the period in review.

Vehicle ModelRelative Theft Claim Frequency (100 is average)
Chevrolet Silverado320
Nissan Maxima351
Dodge Challenger358
GMC Sierra393
Infiniti QX80422
Infiniti Q50525
Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat529
Dodge Charger HEMI544
On the other end of the table, the report showed the highest numbers for theft claims came from conventional vehicles, with no EVs on the list.

How To Avoid EV Car Theft

The best way to avoid EV car theft is to take advantage of existing software solutions put in place by EV manufacturers. 

As mentioned above, the “PIN to Drive” feature ensures your car won’t move if you don’t enter the code. On a Tesla, you can activate this function by going to Controls > Safety and Security > PIN to Drive. 

You can also keep an eye on your car’s location at all times via the accompanying app. Again, Tesla’s app is very thorough with tracking. Car drivers can set all kinds of notifications and alarms, which will leave you multiple warning signs once your car moves even the tiniest distance from the original parking spot. 

In the past, thieves could disable tracking by digging through the settings, but the latest versions of EV software from most of the popular names require you to know the account password in the first place.

Avoid sharing your passwords and pins with strangers or using easy-to-guess codes and numbers. 

The bulk of EV car theft is through relay attacks. Fortunately, you can also avoid that by using a signal-blocking pouch for your key fobs. Most EV manufacturers are also constantly improving the cryptography of their key fobs to stay ahead of these attacks. 

I wrote a related article that explains if Teslas are hard to steal. I provided all the relevant security features and advantages of Teslas in general. Check it out to find out more about this topic.

Can Electric Cars Be Hacked?

EVs can be hacked. However, electric vehicles have secure systems that are extremely difficult to hack. EV hacking is a very unlikely scenario.

All systems online are at risk of getting hacked, but that risk is significantly lower for EVs. Most manufacturers are constantly working hard to plug any rare vulnerability, so a hacker is unlikely to steal your car.

A highly skilled and dedicated hacker might be able to steal an EV, but it’s unlikely that such a hacker would target an average person’s EV.

Can EV Security Systems Be Disabled Remotely?

EV security systems can only be disabled remotely by their owner. It’s almost impossible for the system to be shut down remotely by someone else.

The closest you’d come to such a scenario is relay attacks, which you can avoid with a faraday pouch for your key fob.

Can an Electric Vehicle’s Battery be Stolen?

Theft of an electric vehicle’s car battery is highly unlikely and uncommon due to several factors.

Electric vehicle batteries are typically large, heavy, and securely integrated into the vehicle’s structure, making them difficult to remove.

Manufacturers design electric vehicles with extensive security measures, including tamper-proof enclosures and advanced locking systems, to deter theft attempts.

Electric vehicle batteries are also practically impossible to steal because electric vehicles often have built-in GPS tracking systems and sophisticated anti-theft alarms that can notify the owner and authorities if unauthorized access is detected.

Furthermore, stolen electric vehicle batteries hold limited value in the black market due to their specific compatibility requirements. Electric vehicle batteries are designed to work with specific models and may not be compatible with other vehicles.

This significantly reduces the incentive for thieves to target electric vehicle batteries, as the search for a buyer for a stolen battery can be challenging.

Moreover, the growing availability of battery serial numbers and improved traceability measures further discourages the illegal trade of electric vehicle batteries. Overall, while no system is entirely impervious to theft, electric vehicle batteries are well-protected and their theft remains highly improbable.

Can an Electric Vehicle’s Wheels be Stolen?

Similar to traditional vehicles, electric vehicle wheels can be stolen, but certain factors may make them less desirable targets for thieves.

Electric vehicle wheels are generally compatible with standard wheel locks and anti-theft lug nuts, which can provide an additional layer of security. These specialized locking mechanisms require a unique key or tool to remove the wheels, making it more challenging for thieves to steal them.

Additionally, electric vehicles often come equipped with built-in security features, such as alarm systems and GPS tracking, which can deter theft attempts and aid in recovery if a theft does occur.

However, it’s important to note that wheel theft can still happen, particularly in cases where the vehicle is left unattended in vulnerable or unsecured locations.

Thieves may target electric vehicle wheels if they are valuable or in high demand in the aftermarket.

To minimize the risk of wheel theft, owners of electric vehicles can take precautions such as parking in well-lit areas, utilizing secure parking structures, and considering additional security measures like wheel locks or surveillance systems.

Are Electric Cars Easy to Steal? Conclusion

Sometimes electric cars get stolen, but the rate is a lot lower compared to ICE cars. The car thief has to be someone very close to you in order to gain access to the key fob and know your PIN or account password. 

So, with a little bit of application and security consciousness, you’ll never lose your car to theft. And if your EV gets stolen despite your best efforts, there’s a very high chance of recovery.

Check out these 20 great gift ideas for yourself or a Tesla fanboy.

Contact Us if you have any questions or queries.

Do Electric Cars Get Stolen? Things to Avoid: With Stats 1
Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

A renowned Tesla enthusiast, and successful entrepreneur, enlightens global audiences through his compelling EV narratives. Discover more about his electric journey on his About Me page. Venture to read Erwin's incredible story that's reshaping the future of motoring. Want to spark a conversation with Erwin? Visit his Contact page, and let’s electrify the world together.