Frequently released car thief's crimes escalating, police say

FRESNO, Calif.

David Krick's most recent arrest came at the end of a car chase, but within 24 hours, he was back on the streets again.

Even after re-opening three floors of the jail in the last 18 months, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office is still releasing about 50 people a day for overcrowding.

New jail space may be on the way soon, but in the meantime, Fresno police say they're worried about increasing violence by people like David Krick.

Krick has spent a lot of time in handcuffs, but not much time in the jumpsuit of a Fresno County inmate.

When Fresno police arrested him after a chase Thursday night, it was his sixth arrest this year. All six times, he's been released for overcrowding. In that time, he's skipped three court hearings. He also had a jail sentence reduced from 56 days to six days because of overcrowding.

Krick has auto theft and drug convictions in Madera County and Fresno County, but investigators say nothing's slowed him down.

"He'll probably be on our top 5 if he's not dealt with," said Fresno Police Sgt. Timothy Tietjen.

Fresno police say about 80% of the car thieves they arrest are getting released from jail for overcrowding. Former top fiver Rodney Jones is a rare exception.

He's been in jail for ten days since this arrest on Memorial Day.

But investigators say Krick's tendency to start high-speed chases is a sign he's escalating to more violent crimes.

"You'll see David, too, he's getting braver each time and he's taking more chances and he's even getting more violent which to us shows another pattern similar to Tino Tufono," said Sgt. Tietjen.

Tufono was a top five car thief involved in several chases and released from jail several times before police eventually arrested him for a murder in December 2011.

"There's no such thing in my mind as releasing a prisoner that's going to be 'OK,'" said Fresno County supervisor Henry Perea.

The jail releases are weighing heavy on the minds of Fresno County supervisors and Sheriff Margaret Mims.

They're working on a plan to build a big new jail facility, using state funding.

But until it's built, supervisor Perea says the county needs to find cheaper and more efficient ways to hold inmates.

"It may be a more minimal or medium security facility, but something that's not quite the standards that we're required to build," he said. "That way we can put them somewhere and they can stay there until such time they go to court."

If the county agrees to build the new jail facility, Perea says it could cost up to $90 million and it's probably still at least three years away from opening.

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