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Apr 02

Tesla Theft Tests Car Rental Security

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Image Credit: Jannes Glas – Unsplash

Safeguards couldn’t stop brazen vehicle heist that ended in Italy

First, let it be known that Teslas are, according to security experts, one of the toughest cars in the world to steal. Even if someone manages to make off with one of Elon Musk’s revolutionary electric wonders, the tracking software and other security features, like Sentry Mode, make it even tougher to conceal it from the authorities.

Still, that’s not going to stop a few people from a chance to go from zero to 60 via a five-finger discount.

Such was the case when a Montreal-based car rental company Evoto Rentals booked a client with a Tesla Model X recently. Since the client used a credit card to pay for the booking in advance and everything went through the system accordingly, there wasn’t any cause for alarm. That is, until GPS readings indicated that the car was parked for at least two days at a container packing firm.

It got worse. When the Tesla triangle on the GPS screen went from color mode to a grey shade, that’s when the folks at Evoto got worried. The staffer who booked the car frantically tried to contact the renter via the cell number and email provided, only to realize that neither of them were legit. The next call was made to the police. Authorities responded by saying that the issue wasn’t a criminal matter, since a transaction legally took place, adding that if a theft was actually taking place, it wasn’t exactly high on the enforcement list.

Additional calls to Evoto’s lawyers and Tesla were more encouraging, saying that the car had to be found before it was to be shipped overseas. While a private investigator looked further into the matter, the lawyers managed to get a search warrant to check out the packing firm location. But by that time, the Tesla, already nestled in a shipping container, was on a boat headed for the Middle East.

Fortunately, when INTERPOL discovered that the ship was destined to first hit port in Italy, the force, thanks to some coordination with the RCMP and Italian authorities, managed to recover the stolen vehicle.

Thefts of car rentals aren’t very common and a heist of this magnitude is extremely rare. But with the industry shifting to more sophisticated technology, there remains an element of vulnerability to cyberattacks. Besides managing to fraudulently dupe a car rental clerk, other common thefts include being able to hack into keyless vehicles and crashing office blockades to nab a few sets of wheels. Security will likely be brought up at one of the discussions taking place at the International Car Rental Show, taking place April 14-16 in Las Vegas.

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