Three arrested after Tesla cars stolen off hauler in Flint

The three men were able to drive the vehicles off the hauler. The Teslas were left unlocked, with the keys inside.
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:58 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (7/1/2020) - Is there an auto theft ring in Genesee County? Three people were arrested over the last few weeks accused of stealing Tesla vehicles off a car hauler.

The three men have been let out of jail, as investigators work to find out if they've done this before and who else might be involved.

A few weeks ago, a car hauler bringing multiple Tesla cars from Chicago to Canada stopped overnight in Flint, which the Genesee County Sheriff added is against protocol.

The driver parked the trailer at Flint’s Scott School. Sheriff Chris Swanson said he didn’t just leave the high-end vehicles in plain sight, the cars were also left unlocked, with the keys inside.

“They drove them right off the back of the car hauler; and mind you, there’s no combustible engine, these are electric cars, there’s no sound, other than the grinding of fiberglass underneath, so nobody called on it,” the Sheriff explained.

Thin tethers are all the suspected thieves had to cut. Sheriff Swanson said the GPS wasn't activated yet in the three they stole.

The truck driver called 9-1-1 the next morning. Through old-fashioned police work, the Sheriff said they tracked all three cars down.

“All three of them were attempting to, to hide out for future -- either chop shop or sale or, or even just joy ride,” the Sheriff added.

Over the last few weeks, the County's GAIN team -- Genesee Auto-Theft Investigation Network -- tracked down the two brothers and their friend believed responsible.

There's no proof they worked with the car hauler, yet. The Sheriff said they've let the three men go as they continue to investigate.

“We want to make sure there’s no other cities that, that that is happening to. So we’re working with different transport companies and the automotive dealer to, to try to see if there’s other places that this may be happening,” he explained.

GAIN was created in the 1980s. It’s paid for by a grant, funded by people who pay car insurance, to help prevent their premiums from going up when a car theft happens.

“Obviously, the more that the insurance companies have to pay out, they have to recoup those costs somehow; and, they recoup them from the consumer, from the person who lives here, from the person whose car was stolen,” Prosecutor David Leyton said.

The Genesee County Board of Commissioners matches the two grants - one for each office. Both were recently approved.

We’ll keep you up to date as the investigation continues.

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