LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Police are searching for a man accused of setting a series of fires, then robbing Southern California firehouses once the firefighters have departed to respond to the emergencies.
The man is accused of setting at least six fires in Orange County this week and stealing from at least two nearby firehouses.
The suspect was caught on camera setting two fires in Santa Ana early on Sunday and can be seen running towards a nearby fire station just as a fire truck drives away.
The alleged thief is targeting the firefighters’ grocery funds — there is often a cash box in firehouses containing hundreds of dollars to pay for food at the station.
“He’s waiting for the fire truck to leave the station so he can go and commit his crime,” said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. “We believe he went underneath the open door, goes in and takes only the money from a cash box that firemen use for food.”
In addition to being accused of setting two fires in Santa Ana on Sunday, the suspect is also accused of setting two fires in Anaheim on Tuesday and two fires in Irvine Wednesday.
As firefighters were dispatched to the fire in Anaheim, the thief is believed to have snuck in through the station’s bathroom window, taking with him $700 or $800 in cash before he left, firefighters said.
Similar firehouse robberies have also been reported in the Inland Empire.
Investigators say the suspect drives a 2000-2005 dark 4-door Buick Le Sabre with a missing front license plate.