Footage of a potential car thief caught by Tesla’s “Sentry Mode” feature has highlighted the importance of having the right storage options to capture such incidents.
As previously reported by The Driven, Tesla’s Sentry mode uses the eight cameras installed on the vehicle’s exterior to record incidents.
Use of the Sentry Mode feature has already assisted police in identifying alleged perpetrators in several incidents in Australia, such as this footage of a car break-in in Sydney in 2019, and this window-smashing incident in Albury in February 2020.
Anecdotal reports suggest that police are even approaching Tesla owners first to see if footage has been captured when incidents occur.
A new video from Tesla vlogger “TeslaStraya” shows what appears to be another potential car thief checking out his Tesla electric car.
Although in this event, the potential thief did not appear to break in to any vehicles captured in the footage, he says it prompted him to make a video on why it is so important to ensure you have a correctly formatted data storage drive (such as an SSD card) to capture such events.
“So recently when I was in Canberra on a family trip, I did have my car parked at a hotel in what was meant to be a secured car park,” he says in the video that you can see below.
“There was a bad actor running around in the car park looking for potential valuables, and lucky for me Sentry was working on my car and did actually catch some pretty interesting footage of the event.”
The footage shows what appears to be a person dressed in a hoodie and facemask with a bag slugged across the shoulders.
He looks in the vehicle windows then leaves to check other vehicles.
“We didn’t actually catch him breaking into anything nearby and at the end you’ve got Sentry Cam give him a flash as he walked past at the end so I think it is very important you do have storage in your Tesla,” he says.
So without further ado, here are TeslaStraya’s tips for ensuring your storage device is set up correctly to store videos while in Sentry Mode.
Firstly, he points out that having the “Sentry Mode” red dot icon visible on the car’s touchscreen is not enough.
“What this means is Sentry mode is on which means that the car will flash it’s lights if it detects someone is nearby and walking around the car as a bit of a deterrent.”
But while this will mean you will a Sentry Mode notification on your phone that an event has occurred near the car, you won’t be able to watch it and there will be no link to view that dash cam footage.
You also need to have the dash cam icon visible, he says.
“The dash cam icon does signify that you have got storage attached to the car that is actively recording too, so just bear in mind that if you do see the dash cam icon disappear it means that there has been an issue with the drive,” he says.
There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the drive if this happens. These include:
- Disconnecting it and putting it back in again and see if the dash cam icon does come back
- Check and make sure if the drive works in a PC
- Check if the Teslacam folder has been created successfully on the root of the drive you’re using
- Try reformatting the drive
He advises that while the car has a “exfat” formatting option, past experience has shown it is more reliable if formatted to Fat32 on a PC.
Other advice includes testing the drive regularly to ensure the drive is still working.
“Generally what I do when I’m driving every now and then I do tap the dash cam icon just to ensure that the clip has recorded successfully to the hard drive,” he says.
“When I stop the car I do verify that I can actually play that clip back and it does work fine and then I will also periodically test sentry mode out as well.
“I’ll put the car I’ll put my key somewhere inside and see you make sure if I was in the car to text me there the lights flash and the resulting footage has been also stored to the drive and that I can play it back.”
His last tip is to make sure the “Save Clips on Honk” option – which does what it says – is on.
“In probably 90% of occasions you’re honking your horn because there is an issue … this will ensure when you honk your horn that the relevant clip is saved from that event and is also tagged as well at the time you generate that event so you can go back and review that for later .”
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 since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.