Are Teslas Hard To Steal? Security Features and Advantages

Stealing cars has always been a common crime. Manufacturers and buyers alike continue to look for ways to protect their cars from being stolen, and Tesla has certainly improved security to help prevent car theft. So, are Teslas easy to steal these days?

All Tesla Models are very hard to steal mainly because the company has included many security features that are software-related and too difficult to hack, even for the most advanced hackers. Every owner has several security features available on-hand that are easy to implement. Even Tesla break-ins can be monitored via Sentry Mode.

To get a detailed answer to this topic, check out the rest of this article. Teslas aren’t perfect and criminals actually do find ways to steal them from time to time.

Teslas come with three types of keys:

  • You can get a key fob, much like you would for an ordinary car. This can unlock and start the Tesla if it is within a short distance and is the most practical. Don’t worry about Bluetooth or phone connection issues. Press and hold the trunk button to open the charge port. It has passive entry just like the phone option (where it locks and unlocks automatically) but it is more reliable to do so almost every time. You can also use the summon mode on the fob without any phone required.
  • Key cards are embedded with an audio frequency that controls the locking and unlocking of your Tesla. The Tesla Key Card uses RFID to connect to the car when placing it next to the B-Pillar. If you want to stop any hacking attempts on your keycard you should Equip your wallet and pockets to stop RFID signals. The cheapest and easiest way would be to use aluminum foil.
  • A phone key feature that allows you to control the vehicle directly from your smartphone. This also works via Bluetooth and seems to cause the most frustration with unlocking issues. The only feasible way to hack your Tesla with your phone would be if someone cloned your phone or got access to all its data.

Anyway, before viewing the YouTube video below check out this related article where I explain why Teslas often don’t lock when you walk away and what you can do.

In this YouTube video, JerryRigEverything dissolved a Tesla KeyCard to see what is inside and how good a Tesla unlocks when twisting the wires in all sorts of ways. The title is a bit misleading though.

The safety of your Tesla depends on the type of key you choose and how safe you keep it. Having your key on your smartphone can make your Tesla harder to steal because smartphones often have a passcode or facial recognition, which is hard to bypass in high-end phones.

Can a Tesla Be Hacked? Check out this related in-depth article that I wrote.

How Someone Could Steal a Tesla

It is still possible for someone to attempt to steal your Tesla without access to the key fob, key card, or phone. Someone can duplicate the signals that the keys send to your Tesla by recording your key fob. If done correctly, this could trick a Tesla into believing that the thief has a key. 

Here’s a video demonstrating how someone can hack into a Tesla by relaying Bluetooth signals from a mobile device:

The other way thieves can gain unauthorized access to a Tesla is by hacking into your Tesla app account. This could allow someone to control and steal your vehicle using the Smart Summon feature if done successfully.

It seems like no matter how far we get in technological advances. There will always be people who try to work around security protections. But while it is possible to steal a Tesla, it requires a lot more than stealing an ordinary car. 

Random Fun Stat: Teslas are about 90% less likely to be stolen than regular cars as of 2019. So while it is possible, it is clearly more complex and therefore less common. 

Tesla’s Security Features

If protecting your key of choice is not enough to feel like your Tesla is safe from being stolen, there are other security measures for you to consider as well. 

First, Teslas have a security alarm just like other cars. If enabled, the alarm will take effect one minute after you exit the vehicle and lock the door, and the Tesla can no longer detect the fob. 

To stop the alarm on your Tesla, you will need to turn off the alarm on your Tesla app or unlock it with your key fob. If you have a key card, you can stop the alarm by unlocking the door with the card as well. However, enabling the app is just one of the many security measures you can take to protect your Tesla.

Here’s a rundown of other things you can do to keep thieves at bay:


Pin Code

First, you can set a pin code before you drive. This feature means that your Tesla will not drive (even with the key) unless you enter your pin code. It is a great way to ensure that someone who steals your key is not able to drive away with your Tesla. 

The security feature can be enabled and disabled from the control touch screen in your car. If you forget your pin, you must log into the car with your Tesla login credentials. So even if someone attempted to bypass the pin, they wouldn’t be able to do that unless they gain access to your login information.

Did you know? You can have multiple Teslas connected to your smartphone. Using the mobile app, you can choose from the different Teslas you have saved and control the car with just a click.

Sentry Mode

This is another fantastic security measure provided by Tesla. Sentry mode is the ultimate monitor for any suspicious activities around your vehicle and you should use it if you park your Tesla where you aren’t able to keep an eye on it. 

If your Tesla detects suspicious activity around your car, the app will notify you and begin recording from the car cameras. This will help capture any suspicious behavior or even attempted theft. 

Using the app, you can talk through the car speakers to anyone around the vehicle. You can also honk the horn and flash your lights to indicate that you are watching your car closely. The camera footage should catch any potential danger. 

RANDOM FUN FACT: Tesla encrypts the videos sent to you when this security feature is on. This means that no one can access or view the video except for you, ensuring your privacy remains intact. 

Vehicle Cameras

One way Teslas stand out from other cars is that they feature fully equipped cameras. These cameras are for you to view only unless otherwise indicated, but you can choose to have camera data shared in case of an emergency like theft. 

Camera TypeUse
DashboardThis camera monitors what you can see looking through the windshield.
CabinThis camera records the driver and passenger when in use. 
ExteriorThis camera shows what is happening around the vehicle.
This table shows all the Tesla camera types.

The dashboard camera records the view from your windshield and can be helpful for insurance purposes. You can also set it up to share footage in case of an accident, which can help with insurance claims when determining the fault for an accident. 

Pro Tip:

Make sure that you have insurance coverage on your Tesla called: “New Car Replacement”. It might only cost you $3 a month extra and will save you thousands if you ever get in an accident. So, contact your Insurance Provider and ask them if you already have this or if they can add it to your existing coverage.

Check out all my Tesla Pro Tips

The cabin camera monitors driver and passenger activity. Teslas use these optional cameras to determine if the driver is paying attention and focusing on the road. If not, Tesla will alert you, hopefully preventing any accidents. 

The exterior camera monitors activity around a parked Tesla, helping capture culprits during attempted break-ins. Remember that you need to agree before Tesla shares any video evidence with anyone, including your insurance company and Tesla.

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Documented Cases of Tesla Theft

Teslas may be harder to steal than other vehicles, but that doesn’t mean that criminals haven’t attempted them. Electrek reports that there have been several Tesla thefts in Norway and the US, with the latter country experiencing the highest number of thefts. 

According to Electrek’s report, up to 115 Teslas were stolen in the US between 2011 and 2018. If nothing else, these numbers prove that it’s possible for someone to steal a Tesla. 

However, keeping a stolen Tesla successfully is a whole new ball game. Out of the 115 Teslas stolen in that period, an impressive 112 were recovered. That’s a recovery rate of over 97%! For comparison purposes, the average recovery rate for stolen automobiles is about 54.6%.

That goes to show just how much harder the Tesla security and tracking system is to crack compared to other cars. 


Do Teslas Extra Security Measures Cost More?

Some extra security measures cost more money, but a few are included with your Tesla for free. Sentry mode is an example of a security measure that costs money, but most other options are free.

Are Teslas Easier To Steal With Passive Entry Enabled?

Teslas are easier to steal with passive entry enabled. That’s becauseTesla doors automatically unlock with passive entry once you get close enough to the vehicle, presenting an opportunity for theft.

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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.