SOUTH SALT LAKE — Four people were booked into jail Friday following a bizarre chain of events that led to the recovery of four stolen Teslas and claims by one of the alleged perpetrators that he's a Tesla family member.
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper reported that William Weist, 31, was driving a Tesla that pulled up as the trooper was engaged in a traffic stop on State Street around 1 a.m. Friday morning, South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller said.
Weist claimed he had "a bag of keys" and a Tesla car he "wanted to return." Keller said Weist also claimed to be a Tesla family member. After impounding the vehicle, police discovered the nearby Tesla dealership at 2200 South and State Street had been burglarized, but had been entered without any visible signs of forced entry.
While the investigation at the dealership was still ongoing, police spotted another Tesla vehicle driving by. Police pursued the vehicle and apprehended the driver, Shane Smith, 24, just blocks away when the electric-powered car's battery died.
A short time late, 19-year-old Zachary Hallman was pulled over in West Valley City, driving a Tesla vehicle that he claimed was given to him "by a guy named Tesla."4 comments on this story
Keller said police believed they had recovered all the missing vehicles from the dealership at that point, but around 11 a.m. Friday, following a tip from Salt Lake police, 27-year-old Earlene Parker was arrested at a State Street liquor store, also driving a Tesla she said was given to her by a man who claimed to be a Tesla.
Keller said police have not established what, if any, connection exists between the four suspects, but noted the investigation is ongoing.
Tesla Inc. is a company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk and is named for the inventor Nikola Tesla, but not owned by the descendants of the electrical engineer best known for discovering alternating current.