Skip to main content

Josh Beckler of California wad driving his EV on Mother’s Day when he swung into a Vallejo Target to top off his battery and got a nasty surprise. Most of the DC fast chargers had been torn apart, their charging cables ripped off and gone. Beckler, who happens to be a retired theft investigator for a hardware store chain, knew exactly what the thieves were after: copper wire.

He explained, “It most likely happened in the night, and we found it early morning.” The thieves had dismantled nine Tesla Superchargers installed behind the box store. Surprisingly, they left some stations untouched.

Beckler added, “You know, they left five charging stations. I’m pretty sure after they racked up, I don’t know what the quantity was, but almost 20 cables with the nozzles. Those are extremely heavy, so I’m imagining that’s all they could haul at one given time.”

Raw copper wire, worth $3 a pound at scrap prices
Copper wire | FactoryTh via iStockPhoto

Tesla was quick to respond, repairing all of the stations by the end of the day, Monday. The automaker didn’t release a statement, but experts say the thieves likely did tens of thousands of dollars in damage. For what? A few hundred dollars of copper that they knew they could resell at scrap prices. The crime seems like a waste, but Beckler made an interesting point.

The investigator and former Marine argues that this is not an isolated incident. And it is a sign of just how desperate some folks are–willing to risk their liberty even–for a few hundred dollars.

If you search for news stories like this, you can see that thieves have been cutting the cables off EV charging stations for years. What’s the solution? Perhaps better surveillance would help. In Europe, EV owners carry charging cables in their cars and the stations have no cables. But let’s hope this problem doesn’t get bad enough that we need to change up our entire EV charging system.

Next, find out why some car owners are wrapping their key fobs in aluminum foil for safety, or see coverage of the Bay Area charging cable thefts in the video below: