Nearly Every Single Stolen Tesla Has Been Recovered

The automaker’s recovery rate is roughly 40 percent higher than the national average.

byRob Stumpf|


Believe it or not, one of the vehicle manufacturers with the fewest number of reported thefts in the United States is Tesla. The electric automaker has not only been a theft deterrent due to its "always-on" location services, but may also have kept itself out of harm's way due to being "different" to operate, or at least according to Market Watch, that's what the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) hypothesizes.

According to historical data, only 139 Teslas have been stolen since 2011. The number is quite impressive, given that Tesla produced nearly 35,000 vehicles during the first quarter of 2018 alone; meaning that over the past seven years, the number of thefts represents less than 0.4 percent of all vehicles manufactured in recent months. For a more informative breakdown, the following Tesla thefts by year have been recorded by the NICB:

  • 2011: One vehicle
  • 2012: None
  • 2013: Six vehicles 
  • 2014: 15 vehicles
  • 2015: Nine vehicles
  • 20​16: 28 vehicles
  • 2017: 57 vehicles
  • 2018 (January-May): 23 vehicles

But the interesting statistics don't stop there. In addition to being such a low-ranking automaker on the NICB's Hot Wheels charts, the vehicle also has a huge likelihood in being recovered if it was stolen. Out of the 139 thefts, all but three have been recovered, working out to a recovery rate of just under 98 percent, well above the national average of 58.4 percent.

“That’s about as good as it gets,” Frank Scafidi, the NICB's director of public affairs, told Market Watch. “I’m wondering if the thieves’ intellect might have been overwhelmed just sitting in a Tesla, much less figuring out how to operate it for any length of time.”

Another reason for the low number of thefts may just be general availability of Tesla vehicles in the public, and the typical servicing approach taken by the majority of owners. For the most part, if a part on a Tesla fails, the owner will return to a Tesla service center to have the vehicle serviced, not to a random shop which may have unknowingly purchased stolen parts for another mass-market consumer vehicle. And although owners have been complaining about repair and body shop backlogs, the difficulty of offloading parts to shops that actually service Teslas, combined with the increased risk of a connected car, make the cars seemingly less desirable to nab.

As more automakers begin the switch to an Orwellian utopia of connected commodities, it's plausible to believe that the number of overall thefts of newer vehicles could potentially decrease. The risk of theft appears to be lower at this time, despite the average cost of a connected car seemingly being more expensive than its non-connected counterpart, and the ability to follow the vehicle around the world once it's powered on makes the risk far too heavy for most small-time criminals.

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