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Lawsuit: Private investigator placed GPS tracking device on Reno mayor’s vehicle

Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
CourtsLocal Government
Mayor Hillary Schieve

After a tracking device placed by a private investigator was discovered on Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve’s personal vehicle, attorneys on behalf of Schieve filed a complaint seeking to identify who hired the investigator and requesting restitution for invasion of privacy, trespass and civil conspiracy.

The attorneys filed the complaint Thursday in Washoe County’s Second Judicial District Court against private investigator David McNeely and 5 Alpha Industries. The complaint alleged that McNeely and 5 Alpha Industries trespassed on Schieve’s property to install a sophisticated GPS tracking device on her vehicle for an undisclosed client and then received minute-by-minute updates of Schieve’s location.

“In a time of heightened political tumult, the recent revelation of Defendants’ actions still managed to shock the conscience,” the complaint said, adding that once the name of who hired the private investigator is determined, that person will be added to the complaint. 

In a statement released after the complaint was filed, lead attorney Adam Hosmer-Henner with McDonald Carano said the complaint is based on an “outrageous” invasion of privacy.

“We will aggressively seek to determine who hired the private investigators and will be amending our complaint to assert claims against them as well,” Hosmer-Henner said. “Further, we have been informed that the tracking and surveillance was not limited to Ms. Schieve and so potentially affected community members should inspect their vehicles and property for similar devices.”

McNeely and 5 Alpha Industries did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email requesting comment.

Image of the GPS tracking device found on Mayor Hillary Schieve's vehicle (Courtesy of Hillary Schieve).

In the complaint, attorneys wrote that installing the device was an invasion of privacy and caused Schieve “significant fear and distress.” They noted that tracking Schieve’s whereabouts is an invasion of privacy, and similar tracking devices may have been placed on vehicles belonging to other members of Reno’s community.

In an interview Thursday, Schieve told The Nevada Independent that auto mechanics found the tracker almost two weeks before the election during routine vehicle maintenance. After discovering the device, Schieve brought it to the Sparks Police Department, which identified McNeely as the purchaser. 

“I was shocked. I honestly felt sick to my stomach,” Schieve said. “I would never want this to happen to a family member, a young girl. It’s an invasion of privacy. It’s stalking. It’s just super alarming.”

The complaint comes from Schieve as a private citizen and not in her capacity as mayor.

This story was updated on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 1:50 p.m. to include a statement from lead attorney Adam Hosmer-Henner.


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