Are Electric Cars Easier To Steal?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 08/03/20 •  6 min read
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Electric cars would seem to be more vulnerable than conventionally powered cars because they are powered by electricity, but are they really easier to steal?

Electric cars are harder to steal than conventionally powered cars. Innovation has driven electric car manufactures to build cars that are far more difficult to steal. They can now be tracked and even turned off remotely should a thief manage to steal an electric car.

Most thieves consider the obstacles that electric car manufactures have implemented into their new line of cars too great and not worth their effort. Let’s take a look at some of those innovations that are now available on the market today.

Electric Ignitions Are More Secure Than Conventional Ignitions

Electric car Ignitions are more secure than conventional ignitions because of innovations in software engineering.  In the Tesla, for example, Pin to start provides the option for the owner to enter a required pin number before the car will start. Another innovative example is the implementations of disappearing door handles. If you don’t have the key, the door handles won’t appear to open the car.

Unauthorized Towing of an Electric Car is Nearly Impossible

Unauthorized towing of an electric car can be very difficult to accomplish without the owner of the vehicle being made aware.  Tesla, for example, has an option available on their vehicles where surveillance motion cameras can be employed if motion occurs on the car. Sensors will also detect changes in the tilt of the car which cause sirens from multiple sources on the car to draw attention to itself. If the car is being lifted by a tow truck the owner would immediately be called on their cell phone.

Electric Car Doors are Harder to Unlock Without the Key

Electric car locked doors are harder to break into because the manufacturers are increasingly doing away with the lock buttons commonly found on cars today. This makes it harder for a thief to use tools to raise those buttons to break into the car. As previously mentioned, car manufactures are implementing door handles that will not appear until the key is used to release the door handle.

Where You Park Can Deter Thieves

Recharging electric cars takes time. For this reason, charring statins are are found in well-lit, high trafficked areas. Just like vermin, thieves avoid well-lit highly trafficked areas.

Charging stations deter thieves by having locks for both ends of the cable that connects the charging station to the car. Charging station locks require the same card to release both ends of the charing cable, and serves as an umbilical cord between the car and the charging station. Some electric cars disconnect the power motor when connected to a charging station.

If charging the car at home, one could park their car inside a locked garage, discouraging thieves. Once again, we find that the charging cable is locked to the car discouraging theft and provides protection against electric shock. You might think that it would be easy to just cut the charging cable but doing so would kill the one cutting the cable due to the incredibly high voltage being transferred from the charging station to the vehicle itself.

One Pedal Driving Helps Prevent Electric Car Theft 

Electric car manufacturers have not done away with the brake. ” One pedal” refers to a driving technique made possible by advanced technology. The transmission is designed in such way so that when the car is decelerating, the transmission captures that energy, and uses it to charge the battery bank, while at the same time drastically decreasing the speed of the vehicle as though a foot break were applied. In practice, the only time you need to use the foot brake is in an emergency.

This breaking technique is not hard to learn, but if a thief is not familiar with it, they will face confusion

What is the Hardest Electric Car to Steal?

A Tesla model X or Tesla model S would appear to be the hardest electric car to steal. An authoritative testimony comes from the Highway Loss Data Institute. Of 115 Tesla cars that were stolen, 112 were recovered from 2011 to May, 2018.

This one statistic shows that few were stolen, and nearly all of them were recovered. In contrast, only about 58% of all conventionally gas powered cars were recovered in the same period. Creative software engineering can be credited with the low theft rate. 

One owner option is to set up a password that must be entered before the car will even move. The password is as secure as it can be because it is kept and recorded in an account Tesla creates for the owner at the Tesla manufacturing plant. The same account enables Tesla to track the location of the car at any given time, using the on-board GPS. That helps police to find the car if it ever is stolen. This accounts for the high recovery rate mentioned above.

Other Factors Involved:  Car Values, Parts Values, Parts Availability

Electric cars are more expensive than their Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) counterparts, creating demand (or so you would think). The value of their parts is also correspondingly high. The scope and availability of those parts create a two-edged sword that cuts both ways: the number and kind of parts not present in ICE cars means that the supply chain is not as fully developed as for conventional cars, creating demand; but there are enough of those specialized parts available through normal channels, so much so, that there is little demand for them. Depending on the region and car, one side or the other of the sword will dominate.

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute report of August 1, 2019, the following list shows for the model years 2016 – 2018 the least often stolen vehicles:

Vehicle size/typeRelative claim frequency (100 = average)
BMW 3-series 4-doorMidsize luxury car4
Tesla Model S 4WDLarge luxury car11
Tesla Model X 4WDLarge luxury SUV12
Chevrolet Equinox 4WDSmall SUV15
Buick Encore 4WDSmall luxury SUV15
Subaru Legacy with EyeSightMidsize 4-door car17
GMC AcadiaMidsize SUV19
Subaru Forester with EyeSightSmall SUV20

In contrast the following table shows the most often stolen vehicles. This includes electric cars as well as conventional cars. Notice there are no electric cars on the list:

Vehicle size/typeRelative claim frequency (100 = average) 
Dodge Charger HEMILarge 4-door car544
Dodge Challenger SRT HellcatLarge 2-door car529
Infiniti Q50 4-doorMidsize luxury car525
Infiniti QX80Large luxury SUV422
GMC Sierra 1500 crew cabLarge 4-door pickup393
Dodge ChallengerLarge 2-door car358
Nissan MaximaMidsize 4-door car351
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cabLarge 4-door pickup320

Closing Thoughts

Based on the features and characteristics listed above, I would take comfort in the strong likelihood that my electric car would be exactly where I left it, given all of the security features available today.  I have confidence in the new technology being employed in electric car manufacturers, and you can too. Just take your keys with you and lock your doors!

Tim Chesonis

Tim loves writing to help people succeed. He loves tech, Linux, his iPhone and iPad. When he's not writing another article, he's probably binge-watching “The Middle” or “Breaking Bad”, (again). To learn more about Tim, click here.