Tesla Model S Owner, Police, Track Stolen EV Using Smartphone App

Being able to remotely check on your electric car’s state of charge, set the interior cabin temperature and even lock or unlock the doors using a smartphone app is one of those features that make would-be electric car owners and tech fans green with envy.

Tesla

Tracking your stolen electric car remotely: a killer feature you hope never to use?

Being able to track your stolen electric car and directing law enforcement to the exact location where they can apprehend the perpetrator who stole it is a feature you probably hope you’ll never have to use.

But as Tesla Model S owner Shahin Pirani found out last week when her $90,000 Model S was stolen outside of a friend’s house, it’s a priceless feature.

As NBC Channel 7 in San Deigo details, Pirani was visiting her friend last Wednesday evening when she suddenly noticed that her car wasn’t outside where she’d left it.

After the initial shock of realising her prized car wasn’t where it should be and therefore must have been stolen, Pirani remembered Tesla’s smartphone app. Like some other electric car smartphone apps designed to give owners remote monitoring capabilities for their car, Tesla’s app also includes the current status of the car, including its geographic location and speed.

When she checked, sure enough her car wasn’t where it should be, but parked about half a mile away. So armed with her smartphone, Pirani and her friend headed over to the current location of her car, after first calling the police, of course.

Being able to track your car if it gets stolen is really a killer feature.

Being able to track your car if it gets stolen is really a killer feature.

 

As is often the case, the arrival of the police on the scene spooked the thieves, who proceeded to lead officers on a twenty-minute high-speed chase through the streets of San Diego.

All the time, Pirani and her friend watched as the stolen car hit speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Eventually, police managed to stop the electric car by deploying two spike strips in its path, capturing both criminals after the chase continued for a while on foot.

Unquestionably the most advanced electric car on the market today, the Tesla Model S is often criticised by security pundits for its permanent wireless connection to the Internet and its remotely-updatable operating system. It even recently became the subject of a successful white-hat hacking contest in which security researchers successfully breached Tesla’s own computer systems to remotely hack a Tesla Model S.

But in this particular case, as we’re sure Pirani would agree, the fact Tesla includes a persistent Internet connection in their cars as standard not only helped find her stolen car quickly, but even prove how fast the police chase really was.

Have you ever used a smartphone app to recover a stolen electric car? Or perhaps you use that same feature to remember where you’ve parked?

Tell us your electric car smartphone connectivity stories in the Comments below.

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  • Esl1999 .

    I would like to have a “CHRISTINE” mode on the Tesla app. In the event the car is stolen, you would hit the THEFT button which would bring up your response choices. Your first choice, let the police handle it (BORING). Your second choice, CHRISTINE mode. This choice would lock all the doors, roll up all the windows, and have the driver seat move forward pinning the thief. If he/she manages to wiggle out and break the glass, the exterior of the car would go up in flames making it one “hot” car. Thieves would then consider stealing a Model S akin to stealing a Velociraptor.

  • Eletruk

    I want to know how the car thieves got the car in the first place. Was the “key” left in the car? Otherwise how does one steal a Model S, short of pulling it onto a flatbed truck?

    • D. Harrower

      Yeah, that part is conveniently left out to protect the identities of idiots who leave their keys in the car.