Tesla refused to help the police with an investigation into stolen copper wire after Elon Musk learned about the incident because the company was scared of bad press

mmatousek@businessinsider.com (Mark Matousek)
tesla gigafactory
  • Tesla declined to help local authorities with an investigation into stolen copper wire at its factory in Sparks, Nevada, out of fear that it could make the electric-car maker look bad, the Reno Gazette Journal's Benjamin Spillman reported, citing a police report from June 2018.
  • Tesla security employees reportedly told the Storey County Sheriff's Department that the contractor who first alerted authorities about the stolen copper wire was fired after making the report.
  • Tesla declined to assist authorities on other occasions amid reports of "rampant crime" in 2018, according to the Reno Gazette Journal's report. The company has become more cooperative this year, Storey County sheriff Gerald Antinoro told the newspaper.
  • Beyond the theft of raw materials, former employees at Tesla's Nevada factory have described a range of concerns about the company's conduct at the facility in recent years.
  • Sign up for Business Insider's transportation newsletter, Shifting Gears, to get more stories like this in your inbox.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tesla declined to help local authorities with an investigation into stolen copper wire at its factory in Sparks, Nevada, out of fear that it could make the electric-car maker look bad, the Reno Gazette Journal's Benjamin Spillman reported, citing a police report from June 2018.

"We were advised that this incident had reached [Tesla CEO] Elon Musk himself," the report says, according to a photo posted on the Reno Gazette Journal's website. "In fear of the 'PR hit' this incident could make, Tesla advised that they will not release any hard copies of [redacted] information, still photos, or video evidence without a subpoena."

Tesla security employees reportedly told the Storey County Sheriff's Department that the contractor who first alerted authorities about the stolen copper wire was fired after making the report. Tesla declined to assist authorities on other occasions amid reports of "rampant crime" in 2018, according to the Reno Gazette Journal's report.

The company has become more cooperative this year, Storey County sheriff Gerald Antinoro told the Reno Gazette Journal.

Tesla did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

The police report supports the account of a former Tesla employee who filed a whistleblower tip with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2018. The former employee, Karl Hansen, alleged that Tesla did not disclose the theft of over $37 million worth of copper wire and other raw materials from its Nevada factory, adding that he was directed to refrain from contacting local authorities about it. Hansen's supervisor, Sean Gouthro, filed a separate whistleblower tip with the SEC corroborating Hansen's claims, an attorney representing both employees said.

Tesla has denied Gouthro's and Hansen's claims.

Beyond the theft of raw materials, former employees at Tesla's Nevada factory have described a range of concerns about the company's conduct at the facility in recent years. Those concerns have included allegations about the safety of batteries put in vehicles meant for customers, the generation of large amounts of waste, the unauthorized surveillance and hacking of employee cell phones, and the working conditions for employees.

Tesla has either denied those claims or not responded to requests for comment on them.

Read the Reno Gazette Journal's full story here.

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it's like to work there? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com. You can ask for more secure methods of communication, like Signal or ProtonMail, by email or Twitter direct message.

Read the original article on Business Insider