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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tesla s 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?

  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.
  • Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road
  • Ronin They all will back off, because the consumer demand is not there. Even now the market is being artificially propped up by gov subsidies.
  • Keith Some of us appreciate sharing these finds. Thank you. I always have liked these. It would a fun work car or just to bomb around in. Easy to keep running. Just get an ignition kill switch and you would have no worries leaving it somewhere. Those OEM size wheels and tires are comical. A Juke has bigger wheels!