HEAT team has new tools to fight auto theft

FRESNO, Calif.

Officers with the California Highway Patrol say a new program prevents auto theft suspects from being released from jail due to overcrowding.

Officers arrested Anthony Lozano in Downtown Fresno on Thursday afternoon. His recent rap sheet states he's wanted on four different warrants, for chop shops and stealing cars.

The "HEAT" team had arrested him back in October of 2011. He was a large conspirator in the theft of a 1971 Chevelle, valued at 75,000 and found in a garage full of car parts in Fresno County.

Sergeant Lenny Sherman said, "So in our world for vehicle theft he was a pretty good criminal, we have several cases that were open and under investigation."

Sherman says the "HEAT" team arrested him just this week. When officers went back to file more charges against him, they realized he was already out of jail; released because of overcrowding. "They saw Mr. Lozano walking down the street-he's had numerous contacts with Fresno "HEAT" so he cooperated with officers."

Sherman says this time around, Lozano will be part of a new program. A certain amount of room in the Fresno County jail is reserved, dedicated to the suspects the "HEAT" team puts behind bars. There's a limited number of spaces, and suspects usually stay there until they're sentenced. But- as soon as someone goes off to prison, there's another bed- another space, for another offender. In this case. That person was Anthony Lozano. "This prevents this person from being released from overcrowding- we're offsetting funds for his stay because of the problems of vehicle theft."

Sherman says the person he replaced inside the jail was just sentenced to 10 years in prison. He also says, they've got a dedicated prosecutor in the District Attorney's office, who is following up with these types of cases and putting repeat offenders in prison.

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