Continuous Surge in EV Charger Vandalism: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions

In Houston, Texas, vandals stripped equipment like EV chargers from five different Supercharger locations

Since 2023, electric vehicle (EV) charger vandalism and theft have increased sharply. In the past, damaging EV infrastructure was rare and usually driven by strong opposition to electric vehicles.

However, recent attacks are mostly due to thieves looking to profit from the valuable metal in EV charging cables. EV owners and governments have both noticed the increased downtime caused by theft. Additionally, State and local governments are taking steps to enhance security and make charging stations less vulnerable to vandalism.

This recent surge in incidents has had a significant impact on operations and the daily lives of electric car owners. Anthony Lambkin, vice president of operations at Electrify America, told the Associated Press:

“To have an entire station that’s offline is pretty impactful to our customers.”

(Representative Image: Tesla)

Recent Events

Since the beginning of 2024, scalpers and vandals targeted several Level 2 (L2) and DC fast charging (DCFC) stalls across the United States.

  • Recently, vandals in the Bay Area, California, targeted a Tesla Supercharging station by cutting the charging cords from every stall.
  • In Houston, Texas, thieves stripped equipment from five different Supercharger locations.
  • Meanwhile, in Fresno, California, thieves looted more than 50 out of the city’s 88 EV charging stations, with some stations targeted multiple times.

In addition to Superchargers, vandals have targeted newly installed stations by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) in Sumner, WA. The company suffered vandalism twice since their installation setup earlier this year.

Dave Radcliffe, a property owner interviewed by KING 5 Seattle, initially felt pleased to host the new chargers. However, only one week after the opening ceremony, local criminals cut the cables of the stations. Not only that, a month after repairing the wires of EV charger, vandals targeted the stations again.

Interestingly, the offenders then sell the scrapped metal to recyclers, who pay very little for the raw materials. Criminals might earn up to $50 from such thefts. However, cities and charging operators often spend thousands of dollars to replace and reinstall new charging cords.

The impact goes beyond financial costs for providers. The damage causes significant difficulties for EV drivers trying to reach their destination.

Source: Out of Specs Review

Steps Taken

Recycling centers and EV charging operators are taking significant measures. Moreover, the Recycled Materials Association is increasing awareness and collaborating with local law enforcement to issue alerts when theft occurs. EV charging networks like Electrify America are enhancing security by installing additional cameras at the stations to capture thieves in the act.

These organizations, alongside others, will join forces with local law enforcement. The goal will be to retrieve stolen goods and apprehend those responsible for the crimes.