TL;DR If you sleep within 30 ft of your Tesla, turn off passive entry (for S and X only), turn off mobile access (for 3 and Y), and/or require a PIN to drive.
I live in an apartment in San Francisco and my week-old Model Y was parked underneath me in our open parking bay. In the Model 3 and Model Y, passive entry is enabled by default without the option to disable (I have now learned). I worried that my phone’s proximity to the car may be close enough that it could be unlocked while sleeping but after testing it, the car was indeed locked when I went down without my phone. I tried Sentry mode the first night with the car but saw that it was set off 100 times without anyone near the car. So that used significant battery and I have to use superchargers while living here so decided to keep Sentry Mode off after that first night.
Well, the hunch was right. Yesterday night someone was able to get into the car even though I’d locked it from the app the night before. They were able to drive it almost a mile away. Apparently Teslas can continue driving without a key card or phone inside the car, so long as it’s initially unlocked with the phone nearby. When the car was parked again, they couldn’t put it in drive again since it was outside the phone’s proximity. Thankfully they must not have known that and didn’t make it far before putting the car in park.
I got a call from the police yesterday afternoon that my car was sitting in the middle of a lane a mile away. I didn’t even know it was missing because I hadn’t left the apartment yesterday morning. They kindly gave me a lift to the car, filed the police report, and left me on my way after confirming nothing had been stolen – it would appear the thief didn’t know how to open the glovebox (now I’m thankful the glovebox can’t be opened manually when that bothered me at first). Somehow the two Profiles I’d set up in the car had been deleted and there was just a default “Valet Mode” profile left. Perhaps the thief tried factory resetting the car?
The first Tesla support rep I talked to was nice but unhelpful, unfortunately. They didn’t have answers to any of my questions. Thankfully the second support rep was more knowledgeable and helpful. They let me know that your phone can unlock the car with passive entry within 30 ft while the key card that uses RFID can only be used when pressed up against the driver door (so no need to worry about the proximity of the key cards while sleeping). For some reason only the Model S and X allow disabling passive entry with your phone so my only real option while living in this San Francisco apartment is to disable mobile access (unless I wanted to remember to turn off bluetooth every night). The security alarm is enabled by default but that didn’t go off since the car thought I was the one driving.
What’s most concerning to me is that I didn’t get any notification from my Tesla app that the car had been stolen.