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'Grim Sleeper' suspect a car thief

LOS ANGELES, July 9 (UPI) -- The man suspected of being the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer had a long history of car thefts and other crimes, Los Angeles court records show.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, was never sent to prison despite at least 15 arrests as an adult, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was not prosecuted or he received short jail terms or probation.

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In 2003, a probation officer said it was time to get tough on Franklin after he was caught driving a stolen sport utility vehicle. The official pointed to Franklin's record of arrests.

"If at this age the defendant is still engaging in criminal activities … the community can best be served by imposing the maximum time possible in state prison," the officer said.

Franklin instead got 270 days in jail and was freed four months early because of overcrowding.

Neighbors told the Times they knew Franklin, a backyard auto mechanic, was operating a chop shop. He could also sell them televisions and similar appliances at suspiciously good prices, the newspaper reported.

But they also describe him as friendly -- and not someone they would have suspected of killing 10 women in the past three decades.

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