Four Arrested After Bizarre Theft of Four Teslas From Utah Dealership

One suspect pulled over behind a police car and claimed his name was Tesla.

byChris Tsui|
Electric Vehicles photo

Some truly bizarre events unfolded Friday out of Salt Lake City, Utah as four people—William Weist, 31, Shane Smith, 24, Zachary Hallman, 19, and Earlene Parker, 27—were arrested after being found in four Teslas that were apparently stolen from the local dealership, reports KSL.

While the report doesn't specify whether the swiped Teslas were Model S or X's, South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller says that the cars were worth about $80,000 apiece, making them most likely Teslas of the base, 75D variety. "One guy claimed a family member had died and left them all this stuff, but two of them actually said (it was given to them) by (a man named) Tesla," said Keller.

It all started at around 1 a.m. when Shane Smith, for some reason, pulled over in his allegedly stolen Tesla behind a Utah Highway Patrol trooper in the middle of a traffic stop near the Tesla dealership. After the trooper found reason to suspect that Smith was not the electric car's rightful owner, another South Salt Lake police officer arrived to further investigate. Smith was reportedly in possession of a bag full of keys, a business license to the dealership, a certificate of commerce, and a check for $49,500 made out to Tesla. He told police he wanted to return the vehicle.

"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," said Keller. This triggered police investigations into a possible Tesla burglary. 

Smith's jail report later reveals that he told police "a guy he hardly knew gave him a free Tesla along with three other keys to other Teslas" in addition to the keys to the dealership building.

Shortly after Smith's arrest, another Tesla (a car, not another dude purportedly named Tesla) was spotted driving around the dealership. It reportedly ran out of power several blocks later and was pulled over by UHP. Its driver, a man who claimed his name was "Carlos Romero," was found with a financial transaction card bearing the phony name in addition to multiple articles of stolen Tesla property. Thanks to fingerprints, the man was identified as 31-year-old William Weist and was arrested.

Later in the morning, a third Tesla was pulled over by West Valley City police while a fourth was found parked outside a Salt Lake City liquor store. The drivers, Zachary Hallman and Earlene Parker, both told police that the cars were given to them by a man named Tesla before being taken into custody. Hallman's jail report later says that he told police that "he had entered the dealership with two other men and had taken the vehicle."

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

The Tesla thefts are currently under investigation. On a less serious note, we wish luck upon the Utah detective who gets tasked with untangling this insane web of truth and lies.