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Mantecan in jail charged with second auto theft

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POSTED April 3, 2009 5:26 a.m.
A Manteca inmate in county jail awaiting formal sentencing for auto theft was given extra charges this week due to a diligent community service officer in Tracy who took extensive fingerprints inside a stolen car.

Delta Auto Theft Task Force (DELTARAT) officer Stephen Schluer credited Tracy’s Kathy Taylor with being responsible for providing the evidence that led to the new charges against Joshua Johnson, 26, of Manteca.

Johnson had pled guilty to one count of auto theft with a prior in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court on March 24.  His guilty plea is expected to bring a lesser sentence of three years in prison rather than the maximum seven years.

Johnson had led officers on a high speed pursuit in the fog the morning of January 9 sideswiping two cars on Crom and Benjamin streets.  He continued westbound on Crom and broadsided a woman driving northbound with a child in the car on Airport Way before abandoning the stolen vehicle and fleeing on foot.

In the new case a 1999 Dodge Caravan was stolen from the 400 block of Martha Avenue about 2:30 p.m. on October 20.  The same afternoon the vehicle was driven to the 1600 block of Klondike and the license plates were stolen off of a Pontiac van and switched to the Caravan, police said.

On Oct. 29 the vehicle was located by Tracy Police in a Motel 6 parking lot.

Community Service Officer Taylor was able to lift five different sets of latent prints from the interior of the vehicle, Schluer said.   Those fingerprints were submitted to the Department of Justice Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information in Sacramento.

Officers said because of a backlog the processing takes longer than normal.  They were identified as being a positive match to Joshua Johnson, Officer Schluer said.  The report on the latent prints came back late in January and it was forwarded to the Tracy department.

Detectives in Tracy reviewed the report and sent it on to Schluer.  

“I knew he was in custody from January and based on his fingerprints and his past modus operendi – it matched,” he said.  Schluer said the Mantecan lived on Willow Avenue right around the corner from where the car was taken on Martha Street.

Johnson is now being charged with another count of auto theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property for the license plates he allegedly switched out,  and for petty theft with a prior.  Formal sentencing on the earlier charges is set for April 21.
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