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Thief Uses Smartphone To Steal A Tesla From Mall Parking Lot

Electric Car / 3 Comments

But he's not as smart as you might think. In fact, he's pretty dumb.

According to Fox 9 News in Minnesota, a 21-year-old man allegedly stole a Tesla Model 3 he rented only a few hours prior at the Mall of America. While that's arguably newsworthy it's how he stole it that's making headlines. Only a few minutes after surveillance footage shows the guy driving the Tesla into the mall's parking lot, he allegedly used a smartphone app to hack the electric car by unlocking and starting it, disabling the GPS before skipping town. But why do authorities – as well as the rental agency – believe this guy is the culprit?

"We suspected it was him because he used to brag a lot about how much he knew about the car and its security, and this was somebody who had the wherewithal to make this happen," said John Marino, the owner of Trevls, the rental company specializing in Teslas. "I don't think it's that easy. I think this guy had a next level of information on how to do it." He somehow succeeded to hack the Tesla app to do what he did. However, while the guy may be technically smart and quite capable, he's pretty stupid otherwise.

You see, any time the car requires a recharge, its location is immediately known once it's plugged into any of Tesla's Superchargers. "Tesla is not the car to steal," said Marino. "The amount of data Tesla collects is actually kind of creepy." Not surprisingly, the guy was arrested three days later near Waco, Texas.

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Now, here's where the story potentially gets even wackier: a computer forensics specialist named Mark Lanterman interviewed for the original story doesn't believe this guy actually hacked the car. It is entirely possible to hack into a Tesla, yes, but Lanterman has a different theory about what happened. "What it sounds like this person may have done is convince Tesla to take the VIN number of that vehicle and add it to his Tesla account," he explained. "By doing that, you can do that with a phone call. By doing that, you can now control the Tesla from an app on your phone."

Welcome to our ever-growing connected world.