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Tesla’s electric cars seem to be building a reputation as vehicles that thieves actively avoid. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, which recently published its list of vehicles that are most likely to get stolen in the United States, the Tesla Model S and Model X are almost 90% less likely to get stolen than the average car.
Highway Loss Data Institute vice president Matt Moore stated that vehicle theft is a matter of opportunity and market value. This is among the reasons why this year, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, which has a price of around $64,000, topped the list of most-stolen vehicles in the market. Being premium electric cars, the Tesla Model S and Model X certainly meet the criteria of price, but the way they are used by their owners make them pretty tough to steal.
Moore notes that when electric vehicles are not in use, they are usually parked in a garage, or at least close to their owners’ homes, so that they can be plugged in overnight. This practice is common among electric car owners, and it allows each car to leave every day with a “full tank” of power. “Vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity, and electric cars parked in locked garages where they are recharging certainly makes it harder for a thief,” he explained.
Tesla’s electric cars are also equipped with a suite of security features that are actively designed to prevent thefts. Among these are PIN to Drive, which requires a four-digit verification code that must be entered before a vehicle could be driven; Sentry Mode, which monitors a vehicle’s surroundings and engages a series of visual and audible alarms once a break-in is attempted; and Intrusion Sensors, an optional accessory that intermittently pulses ultrasonic waves throughout the cabin and triggers an alarm if the signal is disturbed.
Apart from these security features, data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center have shown that Teslas that actually do get stolen are usually recovered. Between 2011 and May 2018, the National Crime Information Center tracked 115 Tesla thefts, and among this number, an impressive 112 were recovered. An example of this could be seen in a remarkable story involving an attempted theft of a Model S that ended up being involved in a dramatic transatlantic theft and rescue. During the entire duration of the vehicle’s journey all the way to its retrieval, the Model S’ owner was able to monitor the car’s exact location through GPS.
The HLDI notes that ultimately, how often a car or truck is stolen will impact how much owners of the vehicle will pay for auto insurance. Thus, vehicles like the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, for example, will likely carry a higher insurance premium, particularly when they are being driven in areas where the rate of auto thefts are high. This should bode well for owners of Tesla’s electric cars, as some insurance providers still quote high premiums for the company’s vehicles.
Teslas and muscle cars aside, car thefts across the United States have been at a decline in recent years, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau reporting 773,139 vehicles being stolen in 2017, down 53% from 1991, when car thefts across the country peaked at 1.66 million vehicles.