Hamden — It’s probably safe to say Teslas were not designed for crime-fighting.
But a local couple whose Tesla was stolen tried to stop the car by blocking it with their other Tesla, according to the police report about the incident.
Lauren Garrett’s husband’s Tesla sedan was stolen Saturday night and, through tracking technology built into the vehicle, they quickly found it.
“Once they located the stolen vehicle in the area of Dixwell Avenue and Putnam Avenue, Dan Garrett attempted to block the stolen Tesla’s movement with the Tesla. … The two cars collided when Dan Garrett tried to block the path of the recently stolen Tesla,” according to the report by Lt. Timothy Wydra, who was the shift commander/supervisor the night of the incident.
The incident unfolded after Lauren Garrett, who is running against Mayor Curt B. Leng in a Democratic primary, had dinner with her husband, Dan, and two children at Sushi Palace on Dixwell Avenue.
She said that as they were leaving they saw their gray Tesla sedan was gone.
Lauren Garrett told an officer they got in their Tesla SUV with their children and began tracking the stolen sedan using an app on their phone, according to the police report. After driving around, they saw the stolen Tesla was “pinging” near Dixwell and Circular avenues, the report said.
Lauren Garrett said they reacted to their car being stolen by using the technology they had to track it down. She said they wanted to be nearby in case they could get a look at the thief, and for when police arrived.
Dan Garrett was driving the SUV and told the 911 operator they were tracking the sedan when they called 911, according to a recording of the call. As the operator asked for information about the vehicle’s location and registration, Dan Garrett can be heard talking with Lauren Garrett about the location of the sedan and not responding to the operator immediately.
Lauren Garrett said Monday they called dispatch before they left the restaurant to track the car.
The Garretts were driving north on Dixwell Avenue in the left lane when they saw their sedan stopped in traffic in front of Key Bank in the left southbound lane, the police report said. On the 911 call, Lauren Garrett can be heard saying the car is nearby ahead of them turning left.
Lauren Garrett said her husband “stopped the Tesla SUV next to their stolen Tesla sedan and he began to yell at the operator for stealing their vehicle,” the report said.
The Garretts can be heard saying “oh God . . . whoa, whoa, whoa” and then, after a long pause, telling the 911 operator the sedan had just hit their SUV.
The sedan had been driven forward, “cutting behind their Tesla SUV in order to get around traffic to leave the area,” the report said, causing damage to both vehicles.
On police body camera footage after the sedan was recovered, Dan Garrett can be heard explaining how the cars collided and saying “I gave him too much room to get out. I just pulled off a little bit too much, so he hit that,” according to a subsequent incident report by Wydra.
On the body camera, Dan Garrett is seen answering a phone call, explaining to the person on the line how the collision happened and tells them, “So crazy, I saw him on Dixwell ’cause we tracked it with the phone and I blocked him,” the report said.
Just after the cars collided, the operator repeatedly asked where they were, while Dan and Lauren Garrett can be heard talking back and forth. The operator interrupted them, saying, “I don’t mean to sound rude but we’re obviously wasting time here. I need to know where you are and where this vehicle was taken so I can send officers to you. You’re not talking to me.”
Dan Garrett said he would go to the Express Fuel gas station on Dixwell and gave the operator the location of the stolen sedan, according to the 911 call.
At 9:04 p.m. Officer Christina Giori and Officer William Pesanelli were dispatched to Express Fuel on Dixwell Avenue for the stolen vehicle complaint. They were told complainant Dan Garrett would be standing by this location and his stolen gray Tesla was being tracked in the area of Fourth and Warren streets.
When Giori turned onto Warren Street she could see the Tesla parked diagonally on the street, according to her report. Giori didn’t see anyone in the two front seats and as she walked up to the Tesla sedan, a white Tesla SUV approached behind Giori and she heard Lauren Garrett say the sedan was her vehicle, the report said.
The white Tesla SUV parked parallel to the gray sedan and Dan Garrett got out to approach the recovered vehicle.
Giori told Dan Garrett not to enter the sedan yet and asked where he had reported the stolen car, the report said. Giori radioed the department to find out if the vehicle had been reported stolen while Dan Garrett began to enter the sedan by opening the driver’s side door, the report said. He said at the same time that the car had just been stolen and he had not yet contacted police concerning the incident.
A male department member in radio communication with Giorgi said the vehicle had been reported stolen, according to the recording. Giorgi acknowledged it over the radio and said the Garretts had called Lt. John Sullivan and reported it.
Inside the sedan, Dan Garrett found his wallet in which he keeps a key card that enables him to start the car, the report said. Lauren Garrett said normally there’s a passcode for the Tesla that a driver needs to enter to start the vehicle, but that Dan Garrett had removed it.
Police are mandated reporters to the Department of Children and Families but Acting Police Chief John Cappiello said he could not confirm or deny DCF involvement in this case.
He said Jim Dinnan of the state’s attorney’s office was called to consider possible criminal prosecution.
Lauren Garrett had previously said that, after they called police, they got in their other Tesla and started tracking the stolen vehicle with 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.”
“I was shocked by what I saw and heard,” Leng said. “No one should ever consider chasing down a stolen vehicle, especially not with children in the back seat. The police should have been called and allowed to do their job safely and professionally. I’m thankful that their family, nor any innocent bystanders were hurt.”
Leng said citizens can’t count on the Garretts’ judgment or statements, based on their actions.
But Lauren Garrett said Leng is “mischaracterizing a report of a stolen vehicle made to dispatch. He’s also mischaracterizing and intentionally using the word ‘chase’ when there was never a chase. And I also feel that he is using the Police Department as a political tool to undermine an election.”
Garrett said the way the incident is being talk about is “victim blaming and victim shaming” and that Leng is using the Police Department to do it.
“When you’re using a Police Department to try to sway an election… I don’t think Hamden should trust Curt Leng,” she said. “I think this is a pathetic attempt to distract the public from his failed administration.”
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