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Edmonton Tesla owner shares Sentry Mode video of car vandalism online

Tesla keying video showcases how technology is changing the way police work
An Edmonton man's Tesla security cameras caught a man keying his vehicle over the weekend. As Julia Wong reports, police say the increase in technology in the world is changing how their work.

An Edmonton Tesla owner who had his car vandalized at a Park-and-Ride in Edmonton over the weekend is hoping that sharing a video of the crime on social media will help identify the man who was involved.

Godwin Leung, who is also a video editor at Global Edmonton, posted the video on Facebook Sunday morning. He said he had parked his car at the Davies Park-and-Ride before the Eskimos game on Saturday when the cameras caught a man keying his car at 4:23 p.m.

“That was a pretty brazen thing to do. Broad daylight, a parking lot that’s pretty busy, it fills up really quickly,” Leung said.

The Sentry Mode featured in the Model 3 Tesla Leung drives features a monitoring system that turns surveillance cameras on when it senses movement nearby — and displays a warning that it is recording with a message on the main touchscreen in the vehicle.

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“Usually it’s just funny faces, or people peeking into the vehicle, just to see… it’s new, it’s a new electric vehicle and not a lot of people have seen one,” said Leung.

In the video, you see the man park directly in front of Leung’s Tesla, then scrape the drivers side door with his keys as he walks by. After the incident, the man returns to his red truck and moves it to another location off-camera.

Leung said he has reported the incident to Edmonton Police, but that they told him it would be hard to make an identification.

“[Police] said it was kind of a long shot to find the guy because he was covered up,” Leung said.

Leung said he isn’t sure whether the man who keyed his vehicle was targeting it because it was electric, but he’d like to know what the motivation was.

“Just ask him, what does this accomplish? What’s the point of what you’re doing?” Leung said.

READ MORE: Minnesota man allegedly steals Tesla Model 3 vehicle with smartphone app

A police force in Broomfield, Colo. recently arrested and charged a woman with criminal mischief after a Tesla owner in that city posted their Sentry Mode vehicle footage of a similar incident on social media. The woman turned herself in after that post went viral.

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Rachel Welte, public information officer for Broomfield Police Department, said video of the incident was instrumental in catching a suspect.

“We received hundreds of tips through social media and through our dispatch centre,” she said.

“I think it was so interesting somebody would have cameras on their car and it would get this good of video of a suspect.”

Welte said police were able to identify the suspect within 48 hours of the incident and made arrangements for the woman to turn herself in.

Maria Elena Gimeno, 57, has been charged with criminal mischief, a class 6 felony.

“You think about how many times somebody’s tires are slashed, their car is keyed, there’s some type of vandalism to their property – most likely there’s going to be witness or even nearby surveillance video of that is slim to none,” Welte said.

“The video was key to us making an arrest.”

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Welte said more video from the public – from dashcams, doorbell cameras and vehicle cameras – is helping the police department.

“We get a lot more tips than maybe we would in the past, but the validity of the tips and the leads we get is stronger than ever before too,” she said.

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However, she said the cameras do not necessarily deter people from committing a crime.

“You would think so but [it’s] not always the case. Crime still happens unfortunately. I have a feeling though that people are going to think twice about keying a Tesla after seeing this story, no doubt, because the video was so clear,” Welte said.

David Papp, an online security expert, said personal security cameras are becoming more commonplace because they are cheaper and easier to use than in the past.

“We definitely live in a society now, I feel, where we’re being recorded now many times daily,” he said.

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READ MORE: New camera technology, current laws make fight against peeping Toms difficult: experts

Papp said the devices are a way for people to better understand what happened in a situation.

“People just want to be aware, that they are informed when something happens. Whether or not you can do something with it is the next step, whether you can take it to law enforcement, whether you want to go and pursue the information…the key is to actually capture the information in the first place,” he said.

As of Tuesday evening, Leung’s post had garnered over 63,000 views.