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Auto thief who boasts 1,000 heists gets probation

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POSTED January 26, 2012 8:47 p.m.

FRESNO (AP) — A California auto thief who boasts 1,000 heists in less than a year has been placed on probation rather than serve jail time for the crime spree.

The Fresno judge blames the California prison's realignment program for his decision to the decision Wednesday to place 32-year-old Robert Frederick Wollert on five years' probation.

The Fresno Bee (http://bit.ly/wvgi9K) says Wollert bragged when he was arrested on Oct. 20 that he had stolen 1,000 vehicles since December 2010. The prosecutor and defense attorney Glenn LoStracco say that's probably an exaggeration.

Wollert' s several misdemeanor and felony convictions in six criminal cases no longer qualify him for nine years in prison under Gov. Jerry Brown's realignment plan. Instead, any time in custody would have been served in Fresno County Jail.

Artist plans to bury

727 jetliner in desert

BAKERSFIELD . (AP) — A Swiss artist plans to bury an intact Boeing 727 jetliner in California's Mojave Desert and build a tourist tunnel to give visitors a chance to view the underground project.

Christoph Buchel has applied for a Kern County conditional-use permit that will allow him to bury the 153-foot-long decommissioned airliner west of Boron. It's not far from the desert's aircraft boneyard.

The Bakersfield Californian reports the project, dubbed "Terminal," already has planning department staff approval.

The jetliner would be buried 38 feet below the surface.

Visitors will be able to experience the subterranean art project via an underground tunnel connecting the plane to a parking area. They'll be able to use the plane's restrooms, which will be connected to a septic system.

 

Chowchilla fights

conversion of prison

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. (AP) — California corrections officials are temporarily halting a conversion of Chowchilla's Valley State Prison for Women into a men's facility.

It's welcome news in the city, which is waging a legal battle over the project in Madera County Superior Court.

Tension concerning the planned conversion heightened after prison officials filed an exemption to an environmental impact study that the city had requested. The city responded in court by challenging the exemption.

City officials have voiced concern that bringing male prisoners to the area also would bring an influx of families and put significant stress on local resources.

Prison officials have denied this claim and presented a limited analysis to support their position. But an official impact study hasn't been conducted.

Lost teen hikers rescued

 from Santa Barbara ridge

SANTA BARBARA  (AP) — Sheriff's officials say they've rescued two teenage hikers who were lost on a Santa Barbara ridge.

Officer Nelson Trichler says two teens hiked through dense brush Wednesday at about 3 p.m. to find a good vantage point to watch the sun set.

After a few hours and a lovely viewing, they realized they couldn't find their way back in the dark. One teen called a parent, who called 911.

Using a Santa Barbara County fire helicopter and GPS coordinates from the cell phone, the teens were located from the air and a ground team was directed where to find them.

Rescuers crawled uphill on hands and knees for 90 minutes through dense brush to reach the teens.

They were led down the mountain and reached safety around midnight.

 

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