Tesla owner says his app unlocked a stranger's car — and let him drive off with it

Tesla owner says his app unlocked a stranger's car — and let him drive off with it
Rajesh Randev told various outlets he accidentally drove off in someone else's Tesla — and his Tesla app let him.AP/David Zalubowski
  • Tesla owner Rajesh Randev says he accidentally drove off in someone else's Tesla.
  • He said that the Tesla app granted him access to another man's nearly identical Model 3 sedan.

Using a smartphone as a car key for your Tesla has many perks. It means one less thing to carry around and lets you conveniently unlock your car, hop in, and drive without ever turning a key.

Sometimes, you can even jump in and drive somebody else's electric car, according to Canada-based Tesla owner Rajesh Randev.

Earlier in March, Randev got in his white Tesla Model 3, which was parked on a Vancouver street, and drove off to pick up his kids from school. The only problem: He didn't actually get into his own white Model 3, but rather a nearly identical one parked next to it, he told The Washington Post.

After about 15 minutes, he started to notice unfamiliar things about the car he was driving, like a crack in the windshield and a missing phone charger, he told the outlet. As he sees it, his Tesla phone app granted him access to someones else's Tesla, he told the paper.

But that's not all. The glitch appears to have worked in the opposite direction, too. The other Tesla driver involved in the mixup was able to unlock Randev's parked car using his Tesla key card, according to the Post. That way, he was able to find Randev's phone number on a document inside the car and inform him of the snafu.


Randev's story was first reported by the Canadian outlet Global News.

In all, Randev was able to pick up his kids and return the stranger's vehicle — driving for about 90 minutes — without a hitch, the Post reported. The experience left him questioning his car's safety.

Teslas' technology features, like their sprawling touchscreens and the phone-as-a-key function, are some of the brand's biggest selling points. But the advanced tech may also increase the risk from hackers — or, as Randev's story illustrates, strange software bugs.

Over the years, researchers have demonstrated methods of unlocking and driving Teslas by replicating the signal from an owner's phone or key card. But Insider isn't aware of any high-tech thefts or break-ins.

Tesla did not return a request for comment.


Are you a Tesla owner or employee with a story to share about this incident or anything else? Contact this reporter at tlevin@insider.com.