Tesla’s Sentry Mode has once again captured an act of vandalism, this time identifying a Model 3 owner’s neighbor inconspicuously spraying acid on the side of their vehicle at night in Anaheim, California. The motivation for the incident is thought to be related to parking disagreements between the suspect and the owner.
In video footage captured shortly after vehicle Mode was activated and later uploaded to Twitter, a man is seen slowly encircling the car with a bottle in hand, spraying its contents around the circumference of the vehicle. The substance in the container was not specifically identified, but the owner described it as a skin irritant similar to battery acid. At this time, a report has been filed with local police on the matter, and a damage assessment and repair estimate are pending completion before additional courses of action are pursued.
In a tweet describing the reporting process experienced while seeking justice for the vandalism, the Model 3 owner stated that the police recommended an assessment be completed first. “They said. And these are the exact words. Do you want to press any charges? If so you will have to find out how much the damages are then it will go from there,” he detailed on Twitter. Of particular interest is whether the acid used ate through the car’s ceramic coat. If the paint under the coat was damaged, the repair cost will be significantly higher than if not.
Sentry Mode has proven itself to be incredibly useful for Tesla owners. Since its release, it has assisted in identifying vandals, thieves, and hit-and-run suspects, as well as prevented insurance fraud claims. The security feature was created partly in response to a string of break-ins that seemed to be specifically targeting Tesla cars, and it operates primarily by automatically saving video footage from before and after a possible threat to the vehicle is sensed by its cameras. If an intrusion is detected, it plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor at a loud volume to bring as much attention to all-electric car as possible.
Other features have been added since Sentry Mode’s initial release to make it easier to use. A dedicated button matching the “eye” of the HAL-9000-styled screen displayed when the feature is active was added to the center touchscreen, and the feature can also activate when the car is put in park. More recently, voice command activation was also provided via an over-the-air update that allows Sentry Mode to be set using the phrase “Keep Summer Safe” from the Rick and Morty cartoon. Both of these updates are a nod to CEO Elon Musk’s fondness of including fun pop culture references in Tesla vehicles.
Sentry Mode now also has location-based activation options such “Exclude Home” and “Exclude Work”, among others. These options assure that Tesla owners’ vehicles will not trigger the security system while it is parked in places like their garage. As made obvious by this recent attack, however, some owners don’t seem to have a place where Sentry Mode can take a break.