IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Authorities have released surveillance video of a man suspected of setting fire to the leasing office of an Irvine apartment building in what police call a “classic distraction burglary.”
A news release issued by the Irvine Police Department says the incident at the Axis 2300 Luxury Apartments occurred about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 9.
Police tell CBS2’s Stacey Butler that after the suspect set fire to the lobby of the leasing office of the building, he walked into the hallway and knocked on apartment doors, warning residents to evacuate.
Investigators say he entered one vacant apartment through an unlocked window. When the resident returned to grab his keys, police say he caught the burglar red-handed.
“The suspect immediately pepper-sprayed the resident and then fled,” said Lt. Julia Engen of the Irvine Police Department.
The suspect is described by police as a heavy-set man in his mid-30s with dark, curly hair. He is possibly Hispanic or Middle Eastern.
The statement says authorities are also looking for a second man, possibly a subject of interest, who was seen in the same leasing office shortly before the fire. He is described by police as between the age of 40 to 50 years of age with a dark complexion and white goatee.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Irvine Police Department Arson Investigator at (714) 573-6712.