By on November 26, 2017

tesla model x, Image: Tesla Motors

A quartet of suspected baddies were arrested on Friday after being caught with four vehicles believed to be stolen from a Tesla dealership in Salt Lake City. While an automotive theft ring isn’t anything special, the way in which this particular incident unfolded is beyond strange.

According to South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller, the incident began around 1 a.m. when a Highway Patrol trooper conducting a traffic stop near the dealership noticed a sparkly new Tesla vehicle stop behind his squad car. Smelling something fishy, the patrol trooper assumed the driver wasn’t the owner of the car and called for local backup as he conducted another stop.

Keller said the man had a bag of keys on his person and told police he had come to return the vehicle to the dealership. “I don’t know if he had a guilt complex or whatever, but he claimed his name was Tesla and once [police] started talking to him, he didn’t want to talk to police; he wanted an attorney,” Keller explained.

Getting busted with a bag of keys and immediately asking for legal representation is already pretty suspect. But stating that your name is actually Tesla means one of two things — you’ve stolen that car and are jittery as hell or you’ve changed your name to prove you are the biggest EV fan in history.

According to KSL TV, in Utah, “Tesla” actually turned out to be a 24-year-old man named Shane Smith. His initial run-in with authorities lead police to begin investigating a possible burglary at the dealership. During the investigation, they immediately spotted another Tesla drive by the building — driven by 31-year-old William Weist.

Police claim Smith told them “a guy he hardly knew gave him a free Tesla along with three other keys to other Teslas,” and the keys to the building.

Smith also mentioned he was at the dealership when the building’s alarm sounded for almost half-an-hour and witnessed the building being ransacked, in a statement to the police. The police report added that Smith was in possession of a business license to the dealership, a certificate of commerce, and a $49,500 check written to Tesla.

With Weist and Smith already in custody, police reported the recovery of two other vehicles later that same morning. One of the vehicles was pulled over by the West Valley City police, while another was spotted outside a liquor store in Salt Lake City. Zachary Hallman (19) and Earlene Parker (27) were arrested for being in possession of stolen property. Both drivers told police a man named “Tesla” had given them the vehicles.

“Somehow the doors were not pried or broken open,” Keller said. “We believe they went into the building with keys or possibly the doors were open. We don’t know at this time.”

“It’s one of those cases where you’re going, ‘What?’ and you’re scratching your head,” he continued. “The good thing is we have four people in custody and hopefully all the property returned.”

[Image: Tesla Motors]



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10 Comments on “Four Arrested in Tesla Theft: Dirty Crooks or the Ultimate EV Fans?...”

  • avatar

    I need more details, but this sounds like an inside job. I’ve worked at several dealerships across the States, and all of the doors are locked when the dealership is closed. Not only that, but keys are usually kept inside a machine of some sort and the borrower needs to key on some sort of code to release them. This way, someone is responsible for the location of the keys and car. I have seen a key left out over night, but not 4, unless the cars were taken in on trade late in the evening. Even then, the keys would be locked in a managers drawer.

    Again, we don’t have all of the facts, but this doesn’t seem like these four guys simply walked into the dealership late at night and picked up the keys and a check and drove away.

  • avatar

    If the police hadn’t been on top of this case so quickly, how long would it have taken the Tesla dealer to immobilise or track these vehicles down ?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    It would have been more interesting if he used the last name Heisenberg instead of Tesla.

    • 0 avatar

      Hahaha. I’m sure much of the B&B knows the joke, but for the uninitiated, it goes like this:

      Heisenberg and Schrödinger get pulled over for speeding.
      The cop asks Heisenberg “Do you know how fast you were going?”
      Heisenberg replies, “No, but we know exactly where we are!”
      The officer looks at him confused and says “you were going 108 miles per hour!”
      Heisenberg throws his arms up and cries, “Great! Now we’re lost!”
      The officer looks over the car and asks Schrödinger if the two men have anything in the trunk.
      “A cat,” Schrödinger replies.
      The cop opens the trunk and yells “Hey! This cat is dead.”
      Schrödinger angrily replies, “Well he is now.”

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    This was covered locally here. They had keys to the dealership. The cars were driven by people who looked like convenience store robbers. Hence-the cop pulling them over. When they were first pulled over-they gave their last name as Tesla. None of the cars hardly had any “juice” in the battery. Some returned to the dealership for a recharging of the battery as well.

    This guys were not rocket scientists-that’s for sure.

    BTW-the dealership has 24 hour surveillance.

  • avatar

    Average IQ of people in prison is in the mid-80s to low 90s, so these guys should fit right in. Stealing a Tesla with limited range, long refueling time, and ability to be tracked and remotely disabled by the manufacturer is not the work of rocket scientists.

  • avatar

    I can imagine a high speed chase with low batteries would be short.

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