Tesla App Lets Man Accidentally Steal a Model 3 That Wasn't His

The back of a white Tesla Model 3 is shown. A Vancouver man accidentally stole a Tesla that wasn't his.
The back of a white Tesla Model 3 is shown. A Vancouver man accidentally stole a Tesla that wasn't his.

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Rajesh Randev, a man from Vancouver, Canada, was rushing to pick up his kids from school, so he got in his Tesla Model 3 and started to drive over. However, after a good long while, Randev figured out that the car he was driving wasn’t his Model 3. As it turns out, he had stolen someone else’s Model 3 without realizing it, and to make matters worse, Tesla’s app had allowed him to open the car and take off as if nothing was wrong.

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The incident occurred on March 7, according to Global News. Randev confused his white Tesla Model 3 with the exact same car that was parked next to him, but which belonged to someone else. He didn’t realize his mistake when he saw a crack on the windshield, and instead decided to call his wife to ask her what had happened. Alarm bells also didn’t go off when Randev couldn’t find his phone charger in the car, which was strange.

By then though, he had started to receive messages from an unknown number.

“After, five, 10 minutes I got a text on my phone that said, ‘Rajesh are you driving [a] Tesla?’” Randev said, as reported by the outlet.

The messages were from someone named Mahmood, the owner of the Tesla he had accidentally stolen. He had found Randev’s phone number on a document Randev’s car, the other white Tesla Model 3.

Randev parked the car and got out to inspect it, confirming that the wheels were different than those on his own Model 3. Mahmood had been right: He was driving another person’s car. Randev talked to Mahmood and agreed to return the car after he had picked up his kids from school.

In the end, Randev was able to open and drive a Tesla Model 3 that wasn’t his twice before returning it to its rightful owner. Both men ended up laughing over the situation and informing the police, who declined to file a report because it had been an honest mix up.

As for Tesla, the company, Randev tried to get in touch with someone there to try to understand how an app linked to his car could have possibly opened another person’s car, but his emails either bounced back or were left unanswered.

Tesla’s phone key app allows users to unlock their cars and start driving them when their phone is nearby, but it’s supposedly linked to each owner’s car. It shouldn’t be able to open a different Tesla. Some skeptics suggested that Mahmood’s Tesla was probably open and already turned on. Yet, the Model 3 has a system that locks the doors and prevents anyone from driving the car after the owner moves away from the vehicle.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk dissolved the company’s PR team years ago, so the company didn’t answer media inquiries over how this could have occurred. The company does have an online mailbox to report vulnerabilities and a bug bounty program for users who find and report security problems. If someone ever does get through to Tesla, the company might be able to take measures to prevent this from happening again.

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