A 55-year-old man suspected of lighting a handful of discarded Christmas tree fires was arrested and charged with arson on Friday, Jan. 11 following a Santa Monica Police Department investigation.
The investigation began on Friday, Jan. 4 at 3:49 p.m. when police officers went to the alley at the rear of 2110 Ocean Park Boulevard after they had received a report of arson.
When the officers arrived they spoke with Santa Monica firefighters who were already on location and had extinguished a fire that had consisted of a burning Christmas tree and a Southern California Edison telegraph pole.
The officers then canvassed the area and talked to several witnesses and collected some physical evidence pointing to a suspect who had rode up the alley on a bicycle, stopped at the Christmas tree, removed a device that produced an open flame, and ignited the tree.
The suspect had then ridden away.
During the investigation the suspect was identified, and on Friday, Jan. 11, officers established a surveillance position outside a residence located in the 1700 block of Oak Street.
A search warrant was obtained and as the officers were watching the residence when they witnessed the suspect exit and ride off on his bicycle.
The officers noted that the suspect failed to obey a stop sign at Oak Street and 18th Street so they stopped him for that violation.
The officers could not find any identification on this man so he was arrested. Investigators are presently trying to discover if this man is the same one who is responsible for a number of other Christmas tree fires in the area.
Officers executed the search warrant and more evidence was located.
This man was questioned by investigators in the Santa Monica Jail and is facing charges of arson and parole violation.
Bail for this man was set at $160,000. His next court appearance is Jan. 30 at the LAX branch.
Editor's Note: These reports are part of a regular police coverage series entitled "Alert Police Blotter" (APB), which injects some minor editorial into certain police activities in Santa Monica. Not all of the Mirror's coverage of incidents involving police are portrayed in this manner. More serious crimes and police-related activities are regularly reported without editorial in the pages of the Santa Monica Mirror and its website, smmirror.com.
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