Tesla Model 3 Rental Car Stolen Using Phone Key App

One of the cool features of the Tesla Model 3 is that it supports a phone key that allows you to give access to a car to friends or family so they can unlock and start it without a key. The phone key feature is also used by a rental car company out of Minnesota called Trevls. The company has announced that a thief was able to walk up to one of its Model 3 fleet rental cars, unlock the EV, and then drive off in it.

digital key

Trevls owner John Marino said that he believes this theft took a "next-level" of information to pull off. The first suspect that came to mind for the company after the EV was stolen was a regular customer. The 21-year-old thief had rented cars from Trevls frequently and had gone so far as to brag about how much he knew about the car and its security.

The police investigating the theft have stated that they think the man was somehow able to manipulate the Tesla app and start the car, he went so far as to turn off GPS before leaving town. A computer forensics expert named Mark Lanterman has commented on how he believes the thief was able to get past Tesla's security measures. According to Lanterman, he believes that the thief simply took the VIN of the car and had Tesla add it to his account.

Once the ride was added to his account, he could control the car from the phone app. However, Tesla has stated that the man might have been able to enter the car using a phone that had been authenticated as a key during a previous rental. Trevls says that it did remove the suspects access to the vehicle after his previous rental and they have no idea how the suspect was able to reactivate the phone key and use it. The thief was caught, despite having disabled GPS, when the rental agency tracked him as he stopped to use Tesla Superchargers. His whereabouts showed up in the Supercharger billing system.