Does the Tesla Model 3 Have an Anti-Theft Device? Security Overview

Tesla’s specialized electric cars are becoming more and more popular across the world, and while they are chiefly recognized for their sustainability, they also have excellent security systems. For instance, the Tesla Model 3, launched in 2017, has several security measures. 

The Tesla Model 3 doesn’t have an anti-theft device, but it does include GPS Theft Recovery System, Sentry mode, Automatic camera recording, Live camera mode and Intrusion sensors. The Model S and X both have anti-theft features, known as the Enhanced Anti-theft system. 

This article explores everything you need to know about the Model 3’s security features and the efforts that Tesla has made to protect Tesla owners and their vehicles. Even with all these features included, nothing is perfect. The greater the security wall the greater the challenge for thieves and hackers. Find out below.

Built-In Security Measures of the Tesla Model 3

While the Tesla Model 3 doesn’t have an anti-theft device, it has a variety of security measures that make it hard to steal. 

For example, owners can allow mobile access to work only if a username and password have been entered. In addition, the Model 3 also has a security alarm and Sentry mode. 

Read on to more about the security measures that stop your Model 3 from being stolen below. Also, check out this video for a rundown of the Model 3 security features:

Enhanced Mobile Access 

The Tesla Model 3 can allow owners remote access; the car picks up when a key fob is near and allows the key fob holder access. However, in some cases, thieves have boosted the signal of a nearby key fob and used mobile access to steal the car. 

In this case, owners can track their vehicle using Tesla’s mobile access – but savvy thieves may be able to turn off the tracking. So, the best option would be to disable access to turning off tracking as an owner. This ensures that even if your Tesla gets stolen, it can easily be traced and recovered. 

Model 3 Safety FeaturesFeature Explanation 
GPS Theft Recovery System GPS tracking can be activated to track the vehicle’s location if stolen, resulting in a quick recovery of the stolen car.
Passive Alarm System An alarm that is automatically set 3 minutes after you exit the vehicle to loudly alert if the car is disturbed in any way without the key being present.
Battery Backed Siren A siren will alert loudly in situations where a car door or trunk is opened without the key present.
Tilt Intrusion An alarm will sound if the vehicle detects motion within the cabin or is moved in any way. 
Pin Mode A 4 digit pin of your choosing must be entered in order to start and drive the vehicle. 
Glove Box Pin A 4 digit pin may be set specifically to protect the contents of your glovebox. 
In this table, I have depicted the different safety features of the Tesla Model 3 and a brief explanation of how these features function to keep your car safe.

Pin To Drive

One key security feature of the Model 3 is its pin-to-drive option. With this feature, you can use the Tesla App or dashboard to set up a four-digit pin that must be entered before you can drive. Once the pin is in place, even if a thief gains access to your car, they won’t be able to drive it. 

Tesla-Sentry-Mode
By enabling all these security features, including the alarm, sentry mode, and pin to drive, you significantly reduce the risk of your car being stolen.

Sentry Mode 

Sentry mode is a unique security feature that was launched in 2019. It allows owners to put their car ‘on guard’ by directing it to recognize unusual movement. This movement could be in or around the car. 

Here are the steps on how sentry mode works:

  1. The car analyses movement around it and tries to identify a threat. For instance, someone leaning on your car may be classified as a moderate risk. Meanwhile, someone banging on the window will be categorized as a high risk. 
  2. The car will begin recording this unusual activity, and if it decides that something is a moderate risk, it’ll switch to the alert stage. This records around and in the car. It’ll also send an alert to your Tesla app. 
  3. If the car decides the risk is high, it’ll trigger an alarm at the car’s maximum volume. The idea is, that anyone attempting to break in will become scared and run away.
  4. Viewing recordings will help you to identify anyone who accesses your car and could assist in tracking down thieves.
Tesla-Sentry-Mode

On a somewhat similar note, I also wrote a complete guide on How To Set Up Sentry Mode In A Tesla. Check it out if you want to learn more!

Security Alarm 

Like many other Tesla models, the Model 3 has a built-in security alarm. The security alarm will be triggered if your locked Tesla is open without valid access. However, the alarm won’t sound if your key fob is in the vicinity, if you use your key card, or if you gain access via the Tesla app. 

The alarm is automatically enabled a minute after you exit the car. However, you can change these default settings on your Tesla app. You can also use the app to switch off the alarm if it’s set off by mistake. 

Instances of Tesla Break-Ins

There are very few cases where Tesla’s security features have been breached, allowing the theft of a Tesla. However, even in these instances, the cars were quickly recovered thanks to Tesla’s tracking and security features. 

A report published in 2018 found that out of 115 Teslas stolen between 2011 and 2018, 112 were recovered.

CaseTesla’s Fix 
In some cases, thieves have access to a Tesla because the owner’s key fobs are in the vicinity. To prevent this from happening, the Tesla Model 3 has several features: 
Pin To drive: By enabling the pin-to-drive security feature, even if a thief gains access to your car, they won’t be unable to drive it.  Mobile access: Thieves won’t gain mobile access to your Tesla and disable the tracking feature even if they manage to drive it. 
In another case, a key fob was stolen, allowing thieves to override the pin-to-drive feature.Tesla’s remote control feature allows owners to access the car’s functionality. So, even if the car is driven away, owners can slow it down and track it, enabling easier recovery.
A study conducted by cybersecurity experts found that a Tesla can be hacked into using a drone that uses a WiFi dongle to scramble the system and allow the drone to take remote charge. To fix this, Tesla simply upgraded its system to prevent remote WiFi access. 
In this table, you’ll see a detailed breakdown of a few of the rare cases where Teslas were or could be stolen, along with how Tesla addressed potential identified threats.

This table shows that Tesla is highly committed to protecting every Tesla owner and their cars. So even if your Tesla is stolen in the worst-case scenario, it’ll be easy to recover it. 

How Likely Your Tesla Model 3 Is To Be Stolen

If you are considering purchasing a Tesla Model 3 or already own one, you probably wonder what you should expect as far as safety goes for your vehicle. So with all those safety features, how likely is it that your Model 3 will actually be stolen?

Teslas are in the top 10 most difficult vehicles to steal due to their advanced security systems. However, despite Tesla’s stellar security, these vehicles can still be stolen just like any other vehicle. 

One unfortunate feature of the Tesla Model 3 is that this vehicle does NOT have a sensor system that can detect when a window has been broken. However, the other features this Model does have should catch any movement within the cabin should the thief get that far. 

The Likelihood of a Tesla Being Hacked 

Tesla is frequently rolling out software updates for each of its models, including updates for their security. This sort of regular maintenance aids in making these cars practically unstealable. 

They are so difficult to steal because they have a tremendous recovery rate due to their GPS tracking systems if someone manages to take one. However, there are several stories of tech-savvy thieves being able to boost key signals in order to disable the car’s alarms and steal them. These instances are pretty rare, but they do sometimes happen. 

Tesla Model 3’s can be hacked by someone who is skilled if the proper safety settings are not activated. However, it’s important to note that a hacker CANNOT remotely drive the car. They would simply be able to unlock the vehicle, though it is incredibly uncommon, and Tesla has since amped up their vehicle security.

How Tesla Security Has Evolved With Newer Models

As technology advances, so does Tesla’s security software, so it makes sense that newer models are equipped with even bigger and better theft deterrents. So let’s discuss precisely what you can expect from Tesla’s Newest Models and their security systems.

The security features for Tesla’s latest models:

  • Sentry mode. This mode allows a Tesla owner to monitor suspicious movement around their vehicle from their phone. This feature is only available in Tesla’s Model S and Model X. 
  • Automatic camera recording. If suspicious activity is detected around your vehicle, the camera will kick on and begin to record the movement, and the car’s alarm system will be activated. A message will be sent directly to your phone, alerting you of the incident. 
  • Live camera mode. Using your phone, you will be able to log in and view your vehicle at any time to ensure that your vehicle is, in fact, okay. 
  • Intrusion sensors. Newer models of Teslas come equipped with sensors located inside the rearview mirror, which emit an ultrasonic pulse that can sense movement within the vehicle and alert the owners of a possible break-in. 

These are just a few of the safety features that Tesla currently offers as they are continually working on their technology all of the time.

What You Should Do if Your Tesla Model 3 Gets Stolen

Vehicles are stolen every single day, no matter the make and model, but what should you do if your shiny new Tesla Model 3 has suddenly gone missing?

Here is what you should do if your Tesla is stolen:

  1. Call the police to report the stolen vehicle. Like with a regular car, you should immediately contact authorities to aid you in recovering your stolen car.
  2. Offer the police any information you have on your stolen vehicle. You should be quick to share the tracking information from your GPS security system in order to assist in a quick and easy recovery of your stolen ride. 
  3. Call and notify your insurance company of the vehicle theft. As soon as you have alerted the proper authorities and filled them in on any helpful information for recovering your vehicle, it’s protocol to notify your insurance of the theft quickly. 
  4. Wait patiently for the police to recover your Tesla Model 3 safely. Teslas have almost a 100% recovery rate due to their advanced security systems, so you shouldn’t be too worried about getting your stolen vehicle back. 

Whatever you do, remember not to go after the stolen vehicle yourself as that would be dangerous, and the police are much better equipped for these sorts of situations. However, you also don’t need to sit idly by and twiddle your thumbs while you wait either.

You can always use your GPS tracker system to watch the thieves’ every move and keep the police updated while they search.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Hard Is It To Steal a Tesla Model 3?

Tesla Model 3’s are very difficult to steal due to their security system, which can detect movement inside of the vehicle and has GPS tracking should the car ever be stolen, resulting in its return.

Does Tesla Have Theft Recovery?

Tesla does have a theft recovery system in the form of GPS tracking. If your vehicle is stolen you can log in through the app to track its location until it has been safely returned to you. 

My Opinion

Vehicle Safety and Security are one of the most important factors when buying a new car. Tesla is known to be well protected when it comes to its software and hardware features.

As you would expect from Tesla, most things only get better with time. Tesla is constantly improving its security features (via software updates) to make it more difficult for break-ins and thefts.

The only thing left for Tesla to do, is to install some sort of sensor system that can detect when a window has been broken. That seems to be its weak point. Other than that, these cars are WAY ahead of their competition. It will take some doing to overtake Tesla.


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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. 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.