Tesla's Cameras Can Catch Vandals Defacing Your Car, but Not Drivers Nodding Off

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
teslas cameras can catch vandals defacing your car but not drivers nodding off

Sentries stand on guard for our safety, keeping watch over sleeping or unprotected persons, and Tesla’s “Sentry Mode” system pretty much does the same. While two-legged assailants can’t slip a Fairbairn-Sykes dagger between the digital guardian’s ribs to disable the feature, the external camera security system can, in return, set that assailant up for a date with the police.

That’s what happened when one Tesla went up against an angry Coloradoan.

As reported by CBS Denver, a Broomfield, Colorado Tesla owner used the system, contained in a software update issued earlier this year, to catch a perp who came bearing keys. The Model 3’s owner, who parked in a school parking lot and returned to find his car keyed to bare metal, used the car’s surveillance footage to find images of the suspect and send that evidence to the local constabulary.

After returning from his kid’s soccer game to a defaced automobile, owner Alan Tweedie replayed footage from the nine outward-facing cameras. Soon enough, he had his man. Or woman, to be exact.

“Then I found one where a woman distinctly came around with a key in her hand, dug it right in the side, walked it all the way up,” Tweedie told CBS. “Very angry, very purposeful, definitely trying to conceal it.”

Once the images went live in the media, it was only a matter of time before the perp, whom police would normally never find, stopped running. Maria Elena Gimeno, 57, turned herself in to police Wednesday. While it isn’t known what prompted her attack on the Tesla, she could face felony charges. Damage to Tweedie’s car was pegged at $2,000.

While this drama had a happy ending (for the owner, anyway), it’s too bad Tesla doesn’t add an extra camera designed to keep watch on the driver. Tesla CEO Elon Musk famously scoffed at the idea of adapting a driver-monitoring camera to the company’s Autopilot driver-assist feature. Cadillac chose a different route with its Super Cruise system, however, adding a camera to scan drivers’ faces for signs of drowsiness or distraction.

Super Cruise keeps a closer watch on drivers, boosting safety by punishing abuse more harshly. As NTSB reports have shown us, the drivers of certain Teslas involved in recent crashes were able to continue driving even after repeated warnings and long stretches with no steering wheel-hand contact.

Then again, the recent roll-out of Smart Summon shows Musk, and by extension Tesla, places a great deal more trust in both owners and their vehicles then perhaps he should.

[Image: Tesla]

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4 of 18 comments
  • TS020 TS020 on Oct 04, 2019

    I always say to people the safest car is something like a TVR Speed 12. 800HP, RWD, no ABS or TCS. The reason is because you then get two choices: pay attention to driving, or die, and since the safest car is the one with the attentive driver... Also there has never been a crash in a TVR Speed 12; perfect safety rating ;)

    • See 1 previous
    • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Oct 04, 2019

      Because there is only 1 road legal unit in existence.

  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on Oct 04, 2019

    I wonder what the lady was so ticked off about? Husband owns a gas station?

  • MaintenanceCosts Will the Bronco have a four-motor configuration a la Rivian? That seems to me like the right approach for an EV off-roader. Enables lots of neat tricks.
  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.