The owner of the rented Tesla Model 3 on Turo says he did call the police only to hear “it’s a civil matter” — more story updates



This is a follow-up report of the story we shared last week when a Tesla Model 3 was rented on Turo and the guest took it to a body shop in California and was caught red-handed by the owner replacing the car’s parts.

Frank Valdez, the owner of this Tesla Model 3 shares more details of what actually happened and how he caught the renter, and how his car is doing after this incident.

The ironic part of the story is that the California police refused to help him in this matter. Frank says that he did call the police only to hear that he needs to provide proof if things were actually stolen. Stating all the details of the rental agreement, the police said “it was a civil matter”. So, the police department couldn’t send anyone out for help in this situation (new videos below).

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The renter of this Tesla Model 3 acquired the car through ridesharing service Turo saying he wanted it just for a short trip. But after getting the vehicle, he drove straight to the body shop as the owner could tell this by looking at the vehicle’s live GPS location using his Tesla mobile app.

Frank thought the renter might just be there for his personal stuff or he works there. But when he found his car was still parked at this local mechanical repair shop even after midnight, alarms started ringing inside his head. Frank decided to visit the body shop at 1 AM and he did not find the car in the parking lot, it was in one of the repair shops at this location.

Frank decided to visit again in the morning as the place was locked and barricaded at night. The next morning he visited this body shop again only to find out what we saw in the previous video, the original bumper was placed on a rack mount and an aftermarket bumper was installed on his Tesla Model 3.


Here is part 2 of my Turo rental incident #turo #tesla #cars

♬ original sound – Frank Valdez
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In another video update, Frank shows us that since his Tesla Model 3 came back to him from that body shop, some of the functions are not working properly on the car. For example, the center touchscreen UI is not able to correctly show if the front doors are open or not.

This means that something has gone wrong with the door sensors when that body shop mechanic removed the bumper and unclipped wires and put them back. Since it was not done by someone at Tesla or its certified technicians, things might have been messed up that need to be addressed.


Let me know who wants a story time about everything leading up to me catching the guy messing with my car #tesla #car #carfails

♬ original sound – Frank Valdez

However, according to the owner of this Tesla Model 3 Frank Valdez (@frankvidz / TikTok), Tesla and Turo both have been very cooperative in this matter. We already had shared Turo’s point of view that they requested us to post in our previous report.

This car has been gone into a full inspection by Tesla already and the owner is waiting for a report from the automaker. Turo on the other hand has promised to cover all the costs and invoices that occur as a result of this disassembly of the car by this Californian body shop.

Stay tuned as we will post another update if new developments come out of this story.

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Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii


  1. There way in h*ll I’d ever rent out my person car like this. Has this guy never heard the saying “drive it like it’s a rental”?
    It’s one thing if you own a rental company, and the car is just inventory, but this is just dumb.

  2. I love how a bunch of people on YouTube were defending the shop lol, unless you were born yesterday, there is no way anyone would believe the shop’s excuse, it’s obvious they buy cheap parts, switch them, then sell the OEM part for a big profit.

    • It doesn’t matter what their purpose was – modifications done without the owner’s consent are illegal. Full stop.

    • I don’t think that’s what they were doing. If you look at the pictures from the last article, you’ll see that the front bumper is noticeably different and would create a red flag for the renter when they come to pick it up. I think they were a legit shop trying to test a kit they were making for the Model 3. I’m not defending their actions because they weren’t right, but I don’t think they were trying to steal.

    • You mean having your factory bumper, with all of its sensors and cameras, replaced with an aftermarket bumper without your knowledge?

  3. Turo is on the chopping block here and will need to make changes on their contracts that will make renters liable for any modifications made to rented vehicles. Their lawyers will have figure out the proper legal jargon for this, How can this not be an unlawful act?

  4. This article caught my eye because we have a Turo small business and 2 Teslas that we rent out on the site. It’s great that this owner was so diligent in checking the gps tracking in the Tesla to catch this person. We also had someone try this with one of our cars. For those commenters who said they wouldn’t rent out their personal cars, good for you but it’s not crazy if you wish to. Turo is a great way to earn extra money by renting out your personal car in a pretty safe way. Yes, there are always exceptions; but I’ve hosted over 90+ trips and most people are very considerate and treat the vehicles great. Plus there are extra insurance packages that Turo offers additionally to protect your car up to the total of your vehicle, so it’s not a crazy thing do. We are now making profit from our business so to each their own I guess.

  5. He needs to collect all his evidence together and send it to the Attorney General directly, bypassing the police.

  6. It is in fact, a civil matter. Someone borrowed car your car and something happened to the car. Go to court not the police.

  7. I’m sorry to say it, but this is a civil matter. The police don’t have enough evidence from the owner to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt, btw) that there was criminal conduct. The renter on Turo may be civily liable for what he did to the car.

  8. It’s 100% a crime. It’s covered under California Penal Code 484. Hopefully this info gets back to the owner. He needs to go back to that lazy @ss cop and tell him to do his damn job. If he still gets blown off then ask for a supervisor. And if they still don’t do anything about it, then file a complaint with the District Attorney’s Office.

  9. It’s not all that different than a renter of a house for example. If they trash the house, steal appliances, etc, it’s a civil matter. Entering into a contract to use someone else’s property immediately makes the criminal element more difficult. All renters know this, but ignore it until a problem arises. If you rent a car from Hertz or whatever, and trash it, you’re on the hook for the civil liability of damages.

      Intentionally damaging a car is vandalism, a crime. Removing a part and replacing it with a different one without permission might be a civil matter, but if the replacenent was a cheap copy so the quality item could be sold at a profit is CLEARLY THEFT!


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