Electric vehicle charger vandalism continues to rise nationwide

A Tesla Supercharging station in the Bay Area was recently targeted by vandals who cut the charging cord from each kiosk. A few days ago, 5 separate Supercharging locations in Houston, Texas were removed. In Fresno, California, more than 50 of the city’s 88 electric vehicle charging stations were looted — some multiple times.

Since the beginning of 2024, hundreds of Level 2 (L2) and DC Fast Charging (DCFC) kiosks across the United States have been targeted by scalpers and vandals. Historically, most acts of vandalism against EVs and charging infrastructure have been committed by those with anti-EV beliefs or some personal vendetta. But lately, thieves are just looking to make a quick buck by grabbing the copper material used in cable wires.

The scrap metal is then sold to recyclers who pay pennies on the dollar for the raw materials. For a distance that can cost criminals at most $50, the damage often costs cities and charging operators thousands to obtain and install new charging cords.

Of course, it’s not just about the financial cost borne by service providers. The damage causes a major headache for EV drivers trying to get to their next destination.

Chargers vandalized in Houston, Texas

Over the past few days, Tesla Superchargers in Houston, Texas have been hit hard. As KPRC in Houston reported, 5 separate supercharging sites were defaced over the past two weeks, disrupting the state of charging in the Texas city. Fortunately, Tesla was quick to notify drivers to avoid these stations as repairs begin.

A similar situation has developed in the Gulf region. In a video posted by TikTok user k9optima, every charging cord at this station in Vallejo, California was recently cut.

It’s not just superchargers being targeted, of course. Puget Sound Energy (PSE)’s brand-new facilities in Sumner, Washington, have been hit not once, but twice since they were installed at the beginning of the year.

In an interview with KING 5 Seattle, property owner Dave Radcliffe spoke with reporters about how excited he is to host the new Chargers. But just one week after the ribbon-cutting event, local criminals held a cable-cutting event. A month after they were repaired, the stations were bombed again.

Chargers were vandalized in Sumner, Washington

“Unfortunately, things like this keep happening.” Mr. Radcliffe told KING 5 Seattle. He explained their plans to prevent further acts of vandalism in the future by installing large 8-foot lights and beefing up security. “I will provide more security, and we will have a live camera in this area.”

While electric vehicle chargers are the latest target of scalpers, cable theft has been a problem for decades. Everything from extension cords to fiber optic cables and phone lines are fair game.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, wire theft has cost taxpayers $1.5 million since 2021 on public property alone. The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, said 2023 was the most challenging year to combat wire theft. It started last year when thieves pulled copper wires from street lights in Minneapolis, and fortunately several of them were caught. But by the end of the year, electric vehicle chargers were starting to become a major target.

The city of Fresno, California is taking a drastic response to rampant vandalism in its city. Of the 88 L2 and DCFC units the city installed, 50 were recently vandalized.

The city is installing new custom tanks around each of the vandalized units and closing them during off-peak hours. “We do not repair what is damaged until after the steel cabinet is installed.” “Then we fix it, but in addition to that, we’ve also increased our security,” Melissa Allaguer, parking department manager, told ABC 30 Action News.

Charger vandalized in Fresno, California

The cost of custom tanks and installation for all 88 charging stations is approximately $176,000. As the raw materials are from all 88 stations sum It’s probably only worth $500-$750.

One of the main reasons to target EV stations is their locations. Chargers are usually installed in areas that are easily accessible to the public. Such as shopping malls, college campuses, large retailers, drug stores, fast food restaurants, parks, etc.

These areas see heavy traffic during the day but are practically deserted at night. Installing more chargers along major traffic arteries such as major highways could make them less vulnerable. It would also be beneficial to install more units under well-lit canopies such as 24-hour gas stations.

We’ve seen and reported on these types of attacks in the past. But their frequency is rising as more electric vehicle infrastructure is installed around the world.

However, sometimes sabotage is not about money at all. Property is also being damaged by anti-EV petty actors around the world who are just looking to make life more miserable for others. Someone in British Columbia, Canada dipped the charging plugs of a Tesla Supercharger in sealant, rendering the station inoperable when dried.

Last month, a Ford Ranger driver used a hammer to smash kiosks at a Tesla Supercharger station in Taupo, New Zealand. Fortunately, he remained at the site for a long time and was arrested. Hopefully with increased security, lighting and cameras at public charging sites, criminals like these will be brought to justice.

Have you been affected by charges for infrastructure vandalism on your personal property or when you attempt to charge a fee in a public location? Have you noticed an increase in the frequency of these incidents in the past year? Let us know your experience below.

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