Various police agencies coordinated to recover four Teslas stolen from a showroom on State Street in South Salt Lake on Friday, in what appears to be a coordinated theft.
At least two of the suspects claimed to have the vehicles because they are part of the Tesla family. Of course, the electric vehicle manufacturer’s moniker isn’t a family name, but rather homage to inventor Nikola Tesla.
According to jail records, a UHP trooper noticed a man in a Tesla pull up behind him and act suspicious. The trooper motioned for the vehicle to pull over. The man driving the Tesla explained that a man he hardly knew gave him a Tesla and keys to three other Teslas.
Not believing the story, the trooper impounded the vehicle and asked the 24-year-old man to accompany him to the showroom, which was found to have been burglarized.
The suspect told the trooper that when he showed up to the showroom earlier it had already been burglarized and there was an alarm sounding. Since police were not there yet, he said he felt he was allowed to take the vehicle and the keys.
The man also was found to be in possession of the business license for the dealership, a certificate of commerce, and a check made out to Tesla for $49,500 with the suspect’s name endorsed on the back.
South Salt Lake Police spokesman Gary Keller said officers in the area were told to be on the lookout for the flashy cars, which resulted in two more arrests.
A 31-year-old man was arrested following a chase when a trooper spotted a Tesla and started to follow. The chase was short lived, Keller said, as the battery in the allegedly stolen vehicle died.
And a 19-year-old man was pulled over and arrested in West Valley while driving a 2017 Tesla S with a friend, Keller said. The man told police he had entered the showroom earlier with two other men, according to jail records.
“We are still trying to sort this out,” Keller said. “We actually have two people claiming their name is Tesla and a family member died and left them these cars.” Keller said. Two of the suspects had to be fingerprinted to determine their actual identities.
All three were booked into jail.
Everything stolen from the dealership appeared to have been recovered until a Salt Lake City police officer pulled over a Tesla early Friday afternoon and realized it was stolen. Keller said the 27-year-old woman was arrested outside of a liquor store on 1255 W. North Temple. She told police a man named Tesla had given her the car.
Keller said he doesn’t think there are more stolen cars driving around, but he isn’t positive.
Keller said the showroom was accessed with a key, so police are looking for a possibly connected home or vehicle burglary.
“It’s one of those cases where you just have to scratch your head and say, ‘Really?’ ” Keller said.