A trio of suspected serial car thieves have been caught out by the multi-camera security system of a high-tech electric car on the Gold Coast this week.
The Gold Coast is known as one of Australia’s worst hot spots for car theft, but thanks to the high-tech “Sentry Mode” in one family’s Tesla Model X one suspected gang won’t be stealing cars again any time soon.
Tesla electric vehicles are not just an eco-friendly take on private cars that allow owners to escape fluctuating fuel prices – they also come with in-built sensors, including a number of cameras in discreet locations that among other things are used to monitor the vehicle and its surrounds.
“The cameras activate whenever someone comes within a few metres of the car,” Tesla owner Kristian Sullivan told Channel 7 News.
“It’s meant to catch people opening up doors into your car,” he said.
But this time, the cameras caught more than just an accidental bump from a careless car owner.
The three suspected car thieves, aged 15 and 16, entered the Sullivan’s open garage where they attempted to steal money and golf clubs before finding the keys to the family’s $170,000 Model X.
Unaware they had unwittingly activated Sentry Mode on the Tesla Model X, they were caught sitting in the car when the owners went to leave the house, but escaped.
All the while, the Tesla Model X was recording the culprits, giving police the evidence needed to make an arrest when they recognised a suspect from previous incidents.
Examples of Sentry Mode being used to “name and shame” culprits online involved in incidents abound overseas, such as in the US where Tesla vehicles now number in the 100,000s.
The case is less so in Australia where Tesla vehicles now number around 5,000, and this is the first time we at The Driven have heard of a Sentry Mode video becoming evidence that actually leads to a charge.
In September 2019, a Sydney car thief was also caught on camera from a new Model 3 while he broke into a neighbouring vehicle in a Kent Street car park.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.