A few weeks ago I discussed how the West Coast is the “King” for auto thefts. Most notably, Fresno, California. The primary reason places like Fresno lead the nation in the negative social category of auto theft is not that there are thousands of car thieves running around jacking lifts, but car-theft rings.
Fresno is holding onto the top spot in the nation when it comes to auto theft and police say five men are driving up the numbers.
Auto Thieves and Jail
The doors at the Fresno County Jail swing open for auto thieves every day. The sheriff's department released at least five of them Friday because of overcrowding. Auto theft is typically non-violent, so the thieves are low on the priority list for jailers. Not so for Fresno Police Officers.
Officers are constantly battling to keep auto thieves off the streets. They pulled over a stolen vehicle and arrested four people including one man they say is the kingpin. He's been arrested, but he's not likely to stay in custody for long.
Police blame just five thieves for a big chunk of the stolen cars and the suspects have all been in and out of the jail.
One Dude Steals 1,000 Cars!
Investigators say Robert Wollert confessed to stealing more than 1000 cars. He's been released from jail seven times, and after his most recent release, Wollert hasn't been seen since.
One Dude Caught and Released 16 Times for Auto Theft
It makes you wonder how many times you have to get caught to stay in jail. Robert Gonzales has been released 16 times, but he is currently in jail after an arrest this week. Still, jailers say there's a good chance he'll get out before his next court appearance.
Ten times police have arrested Tino Tufono and ten times he's been released, including once this week.
Lorenzo Delatorre has been released 13 times, most recently two weeks ago.
Genaro Montes is number five. He's only been released three times, but that number went up this week when he was caught and released.
Capt. Rick Hill said, "It's an unfortunate thing. It's very frustrating for the staff, but that's life right now. That's the new normal."
Captain Rick Hill says he doesn't like releasing inmates, but it's out of his hands. A complicated formula determines who stays and who goes, and auto thieves usually go. But investigators say the top five will eventually leave the jail, not for overcrowding, but for a prison sentence.