Tesla Superchargers struck as US sees surge in EV charging cable thefts

Credit: KPRC 2 Click2Houston/YouTube

It appears that a surge in electric vehicle (EV) charging cable thefts is happening across the United States. Over the past few months, an increasing number of charging stations have become targets for thieves. The motivations behind these incidents are speculated to be either the resale of materials used in the cables or simple vandalism against EVs. And the situation seems to be escalating.

As per a recent Associated Press (AP) report, Tesla Superchargers in Seattle, Oakland, and Houston have been hit particularly hard. Seattle authorities have reported seven cable thefts from Tesla Supercharger stations so far this year, which already matches the total number of thefts for full year 2023.

Houston Police Sgt. Robert Carson informed the AP that until about a month ago, Houston police hadn’t received any reports of EV charging cable thefts. Then, there was only one reported incident. Today, nine similar thefts have been reported, with one particularly brazen theft involving 18 out of 19 charging cables at a Tesla Supercharger.

Carson noted that he visited the attacked Tesla Supercharger, and he saw around ten electric vehicles that had to leave due to the theft. “They’re not just taking one or two. When they hit, they hit hard, Carson stated.

It’s not just Tesla’s Superchargers that are being targeted. Electrify America, a member of Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) coalition, has also seen a significant increase in EV charging cable thefts. Electrify America noted that two years ago, they would experience roughly one theft every six months. Through May 2024, the number has skyrocketed to 129, four more than FY 2023.

As per Anthony Lambkin, VP of Operations at Electrify America, attacks on even a single charging location can cause significant inconvenience for electric vehicle owners. Lambkin mentioned that one Electrify America station in Seattle has had its charging cables stolen six times in the past year.

“We’re enabling people to get to work, take their kids to school, and reach medical appointments. So, having an entire station rendered unusable is quite impactful on our customers,” Lambkin noted.

EVgo, another prominent electric vehicle rapid charging provider, confirmed that incidents of vandalism against EV charging infrastructure are indeed on the rise. EVgo, along with Flo, another player in the EV charging space, has documented charging cable thefts in Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

Charging companies suspect that thieves might be stealing the EV charging cables to sell the copper they contain. However, despite copper prices reaching a high of nearly $5.20 per pound in May, Sgt. Carson estimated that EV charging cable thieves likely only receive around $15 to $20 per cable at scrap yards. “They’re not making a substantial amount of money. They’re not going to be living a life of luxury off these thefts,” Carson stated.

Charging companies are actively taking steps to deter thefts at their locations. Electrify America has opted to install additional security cameras at its stations. The Recycled Materials Association has also issued alerts from law enforcement agencies to its 1,700 members, aiming to raise awareness about potentially stolen materials.

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Tesla Superchargers struck as US sees surge in EV charging cable thefts
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