They’re an easy way to some quick cash…
If you live in a city like Los Angeles, you likely have noticed an increasing number of Teslas on the roads. Owning the premiere EV brand is a status symbol in certain circles, which has helped aid the rapid spread and helped destabilize the luxury end of the market. While owners might feel good about zero tailpipe emissions, thieves are feeling great about how easily they can steal the quite valuable wheels and tires off Teslas.
Thieves swiped the wheels off actor Owen Wilson’s Tesla. Learn more here.
This problem has been festering for a few years but appears to only be getting worse. That might in part be caused by how common Teslas have become in some cities where many leave their car parked outside overnight. It’s like taking candy from a baby for thieves, who despite the cameras installed on Teslas can have the wheels yanked off and be on their way in just minutes.
Awareness of this problem spiked in late May when movie star Owen Wilson fell victim after parking his Tesla outside his residence in Santa Monica. It’s become almost common in the Los Angeles area and other metropolitan areas.
Many have wondered what they can do to prevent thieves from taking their wheels. Locking lug nuts seem like an obvious solution, although there is a low-cost, quick workaround. Plus, if you lose the key you might find your next visit to the shop for tires or new brake pads will be significantly more expensive.
Considering these thieves seem able to swipe the wheels within minutes, the Tesla security system isn’t much help. Still, police have counseled owners to turn on Sentry Mode and plug in a flash drive so events are recorded. Parking your vehicle in a secure facility at night is best, but if you can’t then select a well-lit location near plenty of traffic. If you park on a fairly steep slope, it makes jacking up the car more difficult, meaning thieves might pass your ride over for an easier target.
Tesla wheel theft isn’t just happening in North America. In Germany, thieves have swiped them off cars which hadn’t yet been delivered to their new owners. Those vehicles were sitting at a service center, so it’s possible this has happened to customer vehicles as they wait for repairs.
Numerous Tesla customers have also complained that their wheel caps have either fallen off or been swiped. That might be how some of these thieves start out by grabbing what literally isn’t bolted down, then working up to operating like a Formula One pit crew.
It’s not just Tesla owners who want Tesla wheels. They’ve become popular modifications for counter-culture tuners and others, in part because of the reaction they get from most people. That kind of demand only further incentivizes theft.
Photos via Twitter