Hamden mayoral challenger’s Tesla stolen, quickly recovered
HAMDEN — Police responded to a stolen vehicle call this past weekend, but by the time they arrived, the vehicle had been recovered.
Lauren Garrett, who is challenging Mayor Curt B. Leng in a Democratic primary, called police Saturday when her husband’s Tesla was stolen, but through tracking technology built in to the vehicle, it wasn’t long before they got it back.
Garrett met her husband, Dan, and two children for dinner at Sushi Palace on Dixwell Avenue after knocking on doors that evening. In separate cars, she and her husband parked at the restaurant and when they left after dinner, Dan Garrett’s car was gone, she said.
Garrett said her husband accidentally had left the keys in the car when her children excitedly jumped out to see her.
Tesla owners have access to a smartphone app that allow them to drive without a physical key, check current mileage range and charge status, and receive charging-complete notifications. Teslas also are equipped with speed monitoring and GPS tracking, so from the app a Tesla owner can find their vehicle, whether it’s lost in a parking lot or stolen.
Garrett said after they called police, they got in their other Tesla and started tracking the stolen vehicle from the Tesla app.
“The car was really close by, and as we were on the phone with dispatch, we were telling them where it was located,” she said.
While the Garretts were in the vicinity of the stolen car as they searched for it, Lauren Garrett said it was never in eyesight.
“We were never following the car,” she said. “We were never chasing the car. We were driving carefully.”
Eventually, they saw her husband’s car in the oncoming traffic lane, and pulled up alongside it, but the stolen Tesla sped off, turning behind the Garretts and bumping the back of the vehicle, she said.
In Capt. Ronald Smith’s release, he said Dan Garrett “parked next to the stolen vehicle and began yelling at the suspect.” Lauren Garrett said her husband only yelled “hey” at the driver when they saw him, and never parked.
Lauren Garrett said after the other driver hit them and drove away, they turned around and saw their vehicle parked on Warren Street, the driver having ditched the car there soon after the encounter.
When Officer Christina Giori arrived at the scene she observed the stolen vehicle “parked diagonally in the roadway on Warren Street,” Smith said.
The dispatcher asked the Garretts to park at the Hess gas station so the police could come to them, Lauren Garrett said. There, they could see the car was parked near the corner of Fourth and Warren Streets for several minutes so they knew the driver had left.
Garrett said they were never behind the stolen car and neither they nor the driver of their other Tesla were ever speeding.
Garrett said they never intended to attempt to stop the driver, but wanted to stay nearby for when police arrived.
According to Smith’s release, “the vehicle had not yet been reported stolen to local authorities.”
“We’re not sure how police are dealing with it,” Garrett said. She said since police recovered the car before they had an opportunity to report the stolen vehicle to an officer, they couldn’t file the police report for a “stolen vehicle.”
Smith said police stress that if a vehicle is stolen, people should contact the local police immediately and not attempt to engage in any form with a criminal suspect, especially with small children present.
“It’s really important for anyone who suspects that a crime has occurred or feels that something may have been stolen to contact the police immediately,” Leng said. “I don’t have the police report, so I won’t comment any further until I can review it, other than to say that I’m thankful and relieved that they were not harmed.”
The suspect is described as a “younger, light-skinned black male, with a round face,” Smith said. Anyone with information is asked to contact Giori at 203-230-4030.