As electric vehicles become more common on our roads, there is also greater demand for charging cables. With each driver often having multiple cables for different reasons, the demand for charging cables is increasing exponentially. However, with price tags upwards of £250, each cable is also very valuable in its own right, and this has created an unfortunate opportunity for theft. The following guide will advise you on how to protect your EV charging cable from theft when charging at home and when using public chargers.
Reasons for Charger Theft:
There is no obvious reason for petty theft of an EV cable. Most individuals who require a cable will have been able to afford an electric car and will not need to purchase accessories at a reduced price from the black market. However, with pawn shops accepting all manner of items and online marketplaces providing a platform to sell stolen goods as ‘second-hand’, cables may provide a small pay packet for opportunistic individuals.
For Personal Use
Similarly, theft of cables by other EV owners themselves is unlikely but is not impossible. Like the ongoing saga of missing phone chargers, some EV drivers may see the opportunity to steal cables in order to have a spare without paying for it.
EVs are considered to be a sign of wealth in many cases and can sometimes be viewed with resentment. Unfortunately, some individuals may take pride in destroying your property. This may be more prevalent in areas where crime is higher.
Competition for Charging Spaces
With more EVs on our roads, competition for limited EV charging spaces is increasing, particularly in areas where infrastructure is developed. Some EV drivers may arrive to find that there are no spaces available. This can sometimes create incentive to disconnect other vehicles and steal the charger in the process. That said, given that cable lengths are limited, this scenario would be logistically difficult and is very uncommon.
To combat these thefts, there are several ways to protect your EV charging cable and they are often very simple:
Charge Your Vehicle in a Garage
You can choose where your EV charge point is installed on your premises and it is often advisable to install the device just inside your garage. This way, you have the option of charging your vehicle with the garage locked or just outside your garage in the driveway. With the garage door locked, the charging equipment would not be on show for any potential thieves and accessing the property would be as difficult as accessing you home. Moreover, having an area in your garage to store you EV accessories when not using them will also give you added security when are away from you home. However, we recognise that not everyone has access to a garage at home and so this isn’t always an option.
Charging Cable Locks
Charging cable locks can be purchased to fit most cables and are relatively inexpensive. These locks fit over the adaptor and handle of the cable and allow you to lock the cable during charging. This cannot be accessed by anyone else and can be removed when you are ready to finish charging. Moreover, the lock is very small and can be attached to your charger for storage when not in use.
One potential EV ‘hack’ is the use of a simple padlock to protect your cable. This can be done by wrapping the cable around one of the vehicle’s tyres and connecting both ends with the padlock. Others have used larger padlocks to connect the EV cable to the public charge point. This is obviously not fool proof but often the presence of a padlock is enough to deter thieves.
Many homes are already fitted with some form of security alarm system. If you are charging your vehicle in your driveway, sometimes overnight, it may be advisable to install CCTV cameras. This will deter potential thieves from trying to steal the cable but will also give you evidence if the cable is stolen.
An alternative to CCTV around the home would be to install front and rear dash cams in the vehicle itself. These would need to have a parking mode option which would prevent the vehicles battery being drained while in use. Parking mode will allow the cameras to stay on standby until any motion is detected, at which point the cameras would switch on and record the incident. However, given that dash cams are often very small, they may not be visible and so would not act as a deterrent. They provide evidence of the theft but only after the fact. Moreover, there have been several instances where the removal of the charging cable has not been enough to bring the cameras out of standby mode and so the recordings have not been taken.
Floor Cable Protectors
Another, more inventive, solution would be to park on or over the charging cable. Doing this to the bare cable would damage it over time but you can buy floor cable protectors which cover your cable and allow you to drive over it without damage. If the vehicle is positioned over the cable, then it would make it very hard for any thieves to gain access.
Is Cable Theft Common?
Most vehicles have lock systems which mean that the charger cannot be disconnected while charging. This means that it is often very difficult to steal the charger while connected to the car. However, some EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, do not have effective security measures and many of the creative security solutions have been imagined by Leaf owners.
However, other vehicles with security systems, such a Tesla models, are susceptible to more sophisticated crime. There have been attempts to develop a way of overriding the locking system on charging cables. Another technique used by inventive criminals is to call the charging company and tell them that their vehicle is not unlocking. They can hack the device to find the code which indicates the charging station should be unlocked and then remove the cable easily once it has been disconnected by the charging company.
Instances like these are becoming more common as the number of EVs on the road increases and more people see the opportunity for theft. Manufacturers like Tesla have, however, encouraged owners to report these thefts and are working to develop security solutions for the future.
While theft remains uncommon in the UK, there is a growing awareness of electric vehicles and charging stations. As the number of EVs on our roads increases, the opportunity and incentive for theft will rise. Moving forward, it will become even more important to protect both your EV and its accessories.
If you own an EV or are thinking of transitioning to electric and would like to know more, please get in touch. A member of our technical team would be happy to answer any questions that you have.