Stealing an electric car charger isn’t as hard as some might think. Is it something Australians should begin to worry about as EV uptake increases?
Thefts of electric car charging equipment in the UK have raised worries that chargers are being targeted for online resale in a new money-making move.
On a wall next to his new house, Paul points to four Rawlplugs embedded in the bricks, a few inches from a small grey junction box. “That’s where my EV charger was,” he says. “When I first viewed the house a few months ago, it was there, but the day I moved in, I noticed it and the cable connecting it to the junction box had disappeared.”
Paul, not his real name, is one of a number of home owners on the newly built Lancaster Park development in the UK whose 7kW uPowa EV chargers, some mounted on posts as well as walls, have suffered a similar fate.
“The housing association said they’d get on to it but I haven’t heard anything since,” he said. “Neither has my neighbour, whose charger has also disappeared.”
The issue came to light at a recent meeting of Hungerford Town Council’s Highways and Transport Committee. Councillor Fyfe told members that up to 15 chargers had been stolen from Lancaster Park. “Some have been stolen from garages and some from unoccupied premises,” he said. “The management company is dealing with the problem.”
Press reports had mentioned charger cables also being stolen. Given the difficulty of detaching one from a car, the risk of an electric shock should it be cut and the proximity of home owners, Automotive Daily Network partner Autocar was intrigued and decided to visit the estate to learn first hand what had occurred.
A short walk from Paul, Rik, whose charger had not been stolen, said he and other residents had formed a WhatsApp group to debate the problem. “I think around 20 chargers have been stolen, most of them when the houses were unoccupied,” he said. “I’ve not heard of charging cables being taken from cars.”
Some chargers on the estate are mounted on posts at the ends of driveways. A few of these also appeared to have been stolen. Power cables hung from a couple while blue nylon cords dangled from others. It was at one of these missing chargers that we met Dan, another home owner. “I don’t have a car, never mind an electric one, but my dad and my brother each have an EV and were shocked to see my charger had been taken.”
Dan’s neighbour was missing hers too, but at the two houses along from her, the chargers had escaped the thieves’ attention and remained on their posts.
Chris Montgomery, a director of EV Chargers Direct, which supplies charging equipment, speculated that thieves might be stealing the chargers to resell online. “The prices of new 7kW chargers average around £550 (around $1000) so one for £100 (AUD$185) could tempt someone who also might not ask too many questions. Manufacturers should design lockable charger boxes that would make it harder for a thief to access the mounting screws.”
EV chargers in Australia are not any different to other parts of the world, although where we keep them – inside a secure garage, for instance – will make a considerable difference in how accessible and easy it is to steal one. New house builds sometimes make provisions for an electric car charger, and new rules regulate that the switchboard must be ready to accept a charge. However where they are positioned is at the discretion of the owner, as long as it is installed to code and any applicable body corporate rules.