Felon arrested after pursuit when stolen Tesla batteries die

RIVERSIDE — A probationer who led Riverside police officers on a dangerous, high-speed pursuit in a luxury electric sports car was arrested after the plug-in car’s batteries died Sunday night, Feb. 17. The pursuit, which wound its way from Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood into Orange County, ended in a felony stop on the 91 Freeway.

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Riverside police officers were first alerted to the vehicle theft around 7:45 p.m., after the owner of an electric-powered Tesla called 911 to report his car had just been stolen from a parking garage on the 1400 block of Everton Pl.

With an app available to Tesla owners, the victim was able to track his stolen vehicle from his phone, and immediately began providing officers with “real-time” updates of the car’s movements, Riverside PD later explained.

Based on those updates, a responding officer quickly spotted the car as it was exiting the 91 Freeway at Adams St. But as officers prepared to conduct a traffic stop, the driver of the stolen vehicle, later identified as Filiberto Felix, 30-years-old of Riverside, refused to yield and sped away from officers.

Officials initiated a vehicle pursuit that first traveled through the city streets. Felix then got back onto the freeway before once again exiting at Magnolia Ave. The fleeing man continued to lead officers on pursuit as he traveled up La Sierra Ave. to Cajalco Rd., then to the 15 Freeway. 

During the chase, Felix drove without regard for the safety of officers or other citizens and the ground pursuit was eventually deemed too dangerous to continue and patrol officers backed out of the chase; allowing the department’s Air Support Unit, “Air-1” to take over.

Felix eventually got onto the westbound 91 freeway and headed into Orange County, where the luxury car’s batteries eventually died, leaving the fleeing man stranded. With his stolen ride’s batteries dead, CHP quickly moved in and conducted a high-risk stop and arrested the car thief. CHP later turned the alleged suspect over to RPD officers.

A Riverside car thief is wishing he had let the luxury electric sports car he stole charge a bit longer after the stolen plug-in’s batteries died.

“We don’t know if all the high-speed and reckless driving caused the Tesla’s battery to go low, or if it didn’t have a full charge when stolen, but the owner said the battery was dying which caused the driver to stop on the freeway,” RPD later explained.

Felix was booked into Riverside’s Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of committing seven felonies and a misdemeanor. At his arraignment today, Felix was held to answer on charges of vehicle theft, recklessly evading officers, possession of a stolen vehicle, petty theft, and violation of probation. He remains in custody on $150,000 bail.

Superior Court records indicate Felix has prior convictions for assault and driving under the influence of drugs.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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