Model S Stolen- Amsterdam

Model S Stolen- Amsterdam

On the Dutch forum at TMC, an owner reports his Model S was stolen. (He got it back.) Moral: don't leave your fob in the car!

Mathew98 | February 13, 2014

You're just asking for trouble if you leave a key fob in the car.

There's a high percentage of car stolen from gas stations because these schmucks decided to leave the key in the car with the engine running to buy a pack of smoke.

One of the solution suggested was to tie the key fob to his "Prince Albert".

AndrewM | February 13, 2014

You've got to love Google translate: one response to the OP was translated as "Hans, lucky guy!! violently, I could reasonably go berserk and best man a serious high kick in his neck selling ..."


Mr Odd Job | February 13, 2014

I've seen a video on You Tube showing a wife holding the key standing a sort distances from the car, husband then driving off in the car leaving his wife with the key. After admit not to good if some one can drive off in your car with out the key is this video true as unfortunately I don't have a Model S yet, intested to hear what you owners know about this? | February 13, 2014

The scenario is the same for all cars that have a keyless system. This is the same for Lexus, BMW, etc.

The general rule is if the car is running, and the fob disappears (i.e. some one moves it outside the car), you can drive it until you turn the car off. At that point, you can't start it again or drive it. Rarely happens, but semi-humorous when happens (to someone else).

Mathew98 | February 13, 2014

@Mr Odd Job - One can drive off without the key fob but it won't start again once the driver exit the car.

This has been report several time when the valet didn't return the key fob to the owners as they drove off.

This is no different than any other keyless engine start/stop system used by the likes of Nissan or Lexus.

jordanrichard | February 13, 2014

What I don't understand is that there is obviously a proximity sensor in the car to sense the FOB for the auto present handles. So, why can't they tap into this sensor and have the car shut down once you get out of the seat. The car won't run until you sit in it and press the brake, so why doesn't it shut off when you get out?

Bighorn | February 13, 2014

It shuts off when you get out.

Panoz | February 13, 2014

Sorry, non-owner here; can you disable the remote fob detection and only use a physical key to unlock the car?

Bighorn | February 13, 2014

No place for a physical key to get physical.

Haeze | February 13, 2014

The reason they don't shut down the car when the fob is no longer detected, is because if the fob ever simply lost connectivity due to interference, or a weak battery, the car would shut off while on the highway (not a good situation to be in).

My suggestion would be to simply poll for the fob regularly while driving, and bring up a message saying the fob was not detected if it ever lost signal. This way the driver would know to go back to where they left the fob before shutting the car off.

jjb94941 | February 13, 2014



NKYTA | February 13, 2014

@Panoz, there is no location to insert a physical key. You can disable auto-present handles, but if the fob is in proximity, you can push on the handles and they will present.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 13, 2014

Jordan, it does shut down when you get out. Walk away and it locks up. I now have a problem that I keep walking off and leaving my ICE car running. It seems so last year to actually have to start a car or turn off a car.

The problem is if you have the car shut itself down when it loses FOB signal you would have cars shutting down at 60 miles an hour. Easy to turn off auto present on the handles and then the car only unlocks when you have the FOB with you and you touch the door handle.

Every car or motorcycle I have owned that has a key sensing system can be driven off without the key. Only need the key to get in and get it going after that you don't need the key again if you don't turn it off.

redacted | February 13, 2014

"There's a high percentage of car stolen from gas stations because these schmucks decided to leave the key in the car with the engine running to buy a pack of smoke."

Okay, I promise not to take my Tesla to the gas station.

Mathew98 | February 13, 2014

@Panoz - Even if you try to insert your manly "physical" key, there are no tailpipes to insert it into...

You can also use the smartphone app to lock/unlock the car.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 13, 2014

@Panoz, You could take the battery out of the FOB and use the emergency dead FOB unlocking and starting procedure.

Place the key FOB without the battery on the magic spot at the bottom of the windshield on the passenger side. To start the car place the FOB on the magic spot below the 12 volt power receptacle.

So yes you can operate the car without a powered FOB and use the Dead FOB like an old school key.

Panoz | February 13, 2014

Dang. The car theft scenario is more of a concern than I had made jokes about...just being close to the car makes it available for any driver.

So the phone app should have a "Bait Car" lockdown feature allowing you to shutdown the car, limit it to 10mph, flash the lights and honk the horn. Or something like that.

Out4aDuck | February 13, 2014

My car gives me a ding-ding-ding if the fob leaves the car while running. Does the Model S do something similar?

Mathew98 | February 13, 2014

There's a message on the dash that says key fob is not detected in such scenario.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 13, 2014

This is the message you get if you try to start the car without the FOB near the car

The car will start if the FOB is NEAR the car.

I put the FOB 20 feet away. No go. Set the fob on the ground next to the driver door. Started and no warning.

PaceyWhitter | February 13, 2014

40-50% of all car thefts are a result of keys left in the car.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 13, 2014

Left the FOB on the garage floor near the drivers door and drove off.

Within about 30 seconds and a quarter of a block away I got a warning chime and this message.

The car will warn you pretty quickly if the key is not present. The key does not have to be in the car to start but it must be pretty close.

My test program is over so back to work.

NKYTA | February 13, 2014

Thanks for the testing @Roamer.

Jack B. Erhart | February 13, 2014

Like the phone app idea, but a simple upgrade for a two process authentication of some type seems it would be a good option.

jordanrichard | February 13, 2014

I understand the car will shut off when you get 20 feet away, but that to me isn't the issue here. Any car thief that learns about this, isn't going to care that the car won't start again once they shut it off. As a matter of fact if they now about the ability to drive off with out the FOB, they will undoubtedly know to not shut it off and go for their joy ride or to the chop shop. Can the timing of shutdown be changed, like say once you are 10 feet away?

Bighorn | February 13, 2014

The car shuts off when you get out of the seat and close the door--no proximity issue wrt the fob.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 13, 2014

Jordan. All you have to do is get out and click the remote. All locked and happy. Alarm armed.

Only time this is an issue is if you let the car do everything and take no action.

Haeze | February 13, 2014

Again, any disabling of the car when the fob is out of range could lead to safety concerns if it ever lost communication while driving. This is not an uncommon occurence if you consider cell phone interference, and dead batteries causing the issue.

The last thing I would want is for the battery in my fob to die while I am driving through the Nevada desert, and it causes my entire car to stop operating.

Also, disabling the car means that you will have a long walk back to get the fob, rather than just getting a warning and driving back to where the fob was left. Meanwhile your car is parked in middle of a roadway causing a hazard.

With the GPS functions of the car, it is tough to steal. You could track the criminal all the way to their chop shop, and show the officer the exact, real-time location of the car just by using your phone.

The caliber of criminal it would take to know how to disable that GPS, is way beyond the type that waits at a gas station to jump in your car when you leave the key inside.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 13, 2014

the only issue is how fast you want it to lock. The walk away lock is very convenient but a manual remote click lock is instant. Take your pick depending on the location. My BMW works the same way.

I expect a setting soon ( Tesla soon ) that will allow driver door unlocking only. Right now all doors unlock with the remote.

Mark22 | February 13, 2014

It isn't based on distance, it is based on time.
The distance the fob is recognized is about 4-5 feet from the front doors.
Once you leave that distance, the car will lock itself.
It is about 30 seconds.

So if you get out of the car, which shuts it off immediately, and stand about 10 feet away for 30 seconds the car will then lock itself.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 13, 2014

@Haeze, and while the car thief is driving you could freak him/her out venting and closing the Pano. I did it to my wife once. I won't be doing that again. There should be a warning in the manual to not vent the Pano while your wife is driving. It can result in severe bodily injury and create a potentially deadly situation upon return to the residence.

jordanrichard | February 13, 2014

Roamer, that's funny.

lawsteve | February 13, 2014

Funny, sort of related, story. About a month ago, I drove to the airport with my wife to drop me off for a flight. We were in her MB SUV with a keyless system. I was running late for my flight, so jumped out of the driver's seat at the terminal, gave her a quick kiss, waved goodbye as she drove off, and ran into the terminal. When I got to security and emptied my pockets, I discovered I had the key fob in my pocket.

I immediately tried to call her. As always, she didn't pick up her cell phone. When I arrived at my destination, I got a message that she had been stranded at the grocery store when she stopped on the way home. Luckily she was able to contact someone to drive her to our house and retrieve the spare key fob.

I'm sure this could happen with my Tesla, so make sure you hand off the key fob when being dropped off!

Jewsh | February 13, 2014


"One of the solution suggested was to tie the key fob to his "Prince Albert"."

Does the dude have to "tap" the dash to get started? I would even if it isn't required. ;-)

Mr Odd Job | February 13, 2014

Many thanks to one and all for the replies, would have thought maybe giving a warning that the key is not in the car and maybe then only allowing you to drive a set distance say 10 miles to allow you to park safely or return to get the fob might have been ok, that said can see all the points made here. Guess when I can get myself a Model S will just have to retro fit the same system I fitted to my Bentley using Bluetooth where by I paired the car with my phone and if my phone was not within reach the car would just shut down simple. In the 12+ years I had the car it never lost signal or shut off while I was driving and I never had any trouble with the phone that I know some folks have had that just turned it self off when it felt like it.

@Roamer When's the devoice settlement is she letting you keep the car?

david.baird | February 13, 2014

Why don't they not allow the car to start unless it's detected INSIDE the MS, so one sensor for doors, another for driving...? | February 13, 2014

Don't be too concerned about a chop-shop yet. There's no market for Tesla parts for at least another 2.5 years (when the first cars come out of warranty). It's likely to be far longer, as who is going to want to have their car serviced anywhere else than at a Tesla service center and want to trust using used parts from who-knows-where.

No market for parts, means no chops!

SteveWong | February 13, 2014

One potential benefit of a stolen pure electric car is that they will eventually run out of charge and charging will require a few hours. Its not like they can gas and run immediately!

(range anxiety finally works in our favor!)

Tesla tracks the vehicle even if remote access is shut off, and I'd imagine if the owner calls into ownership and reports the car stolen, Tesla could work with law enforcement to find the car.

SamO | February 13, 2014

The car DOES warn you if it doesn't sense the fob. I had to drive back two blocks to get my key which was sitting in my garage on a bench 3 feet away from the car.

Thumper | February 13, 2014

I actually consider the way the fob works to be a safety feature. Let me explain. About the only way you could have your S stolen is by carjacking. I hope/suspect that a thief would be too harried to notice the small dash message that the fob is not in the car. He would drive away without the fob. I would call the police while watching the phone app and tell them to pick up the crook at the specified route! If they stop somewhere before that, they will not be able to start again.

david.baird | February 14, 2014

Nah, doesn't make sense. Keyless entry from outside, driving the car only when the key is internal. It's a no-brainier...

chrisdl | February 14, 2014

Agree. And it is how my BMW works. If I sit in my BMW and dangle the key out of the window, the car refuses to start. Shouldn't be too hard to implement for Tesla, you'd think.

If I stand next to my Tesla with the key fob in my pocket, someone can just hop in the car and drive off with it. I'm not very comfortable with that.

jordanrichard | February 14, 2014

chrisdl, that is my point. I just don't like the fact that the car sits there unlocked for a whole 30 seconds. 30 seconds may not seem like alot, but see how far you get from your car in 30 seconds. With GM cars, through their On-Star program, they can shut a car down while it is in motion. The MS should have the same feature via an app. Or just have the car lock up 5-10 seconds after you shut the door and walk away. Yes I know one can simply hit the lock button on the FOB, but then whats the point of the auto lock feature if you have to hit the button.

As mentioned by others, they also should have only the driver's door unlock when you approach the car or hit the unlock button.

Both of these can be fixed via a software update, I presume.

Roamer@AZ USA | February 14, 2014

@ Jordan. Not always so simple.

The other day I opened the passenger door and put my FOB, iPad and iPhone on the passenger seat. I was wearing workout clothes with no pockets. Shut the door walked around and unplugged the charge cord. Just as I got to the drivers door the handles retracted. The FOB was under the iPad and IPhone blocking the signal it was in the car. Luckily there was an extra iPad in the house and I installed the app and unlocked it that way ( my wife was gone and had her key with her ).

The auto lock needs to give you time to load before it locks. I can see the same thing happening if a purse was put in the car then a child loaded into a rear car seat and then before you get to the drivers door it auto locks. Faster locking creates it's own set of problems.

jordanrichard | February 14, 2014

Roamer, good point about loading and unloading the car.

Though I still feel that only the driver's door should unlock/present handle first. More times than not, it will be just the driver in the car.

Theresa | February 14, 2014

I wonder if Tesla can disable all charging ability for the car? If they could then once it is reported stolen they could disable any attempts to charge. Also maybe they can force all usage modes on to drain the battery quicker.

Theresa | February 14, 2014

Although now that I think a little more if they don't have the key then once they try to charge the car won't restart.

david.baird | February 14, 2014

So my car's going to live on the front drive of my house, my key would normally be on the hall, about 10feet/3metres away. Are we saying that at this distance someone will be able to enter my LS and drive it away?

Mr Odd Job | February 14, 2014

Some good points being brought up here, it would seem that via a software update the owner could be given the choose as the how long they would like the auto lock from 1 second to maybe several mins and which handles the car would normally auto present on approach with maybe an all handle present if you use the fob seems the best idea to me, As someone also mentioned the car should not start if the fob is not inside and driver sitting in the seat seem the ideal fix to me. Fob outside handles present car will not start, fob inside driver in seat car will start. look forward to other ideas.

Brian H | February 15, 2014

No, beyond a few feet away it won't function as a "start" key. That's not only a "no-brainier" protection, it's a no-brainer.