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Police hope to catch Sunnyvale arsonist

September 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It looks like a fire bug is on the loose in Sunnyvale and he is targeting dumpsters and more. A sketch was released of a man police are calling a person of interest after he was seen leaving the scene of a fire.

The sketch is now circulating through out apartment complexes, duplexes, and neighborhoods off Old San Francisco Road in Sunnyvale. The person of interest may be tied to 15 arsons in the area.

"They're all occurring at the same time, they're occurring in clusters, they're all occuring in the same area and what's being set on fire is a combination of debris, dumpsters and a few vehicles," says Cpt. Dave Pitts from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

A vehicle fire was the most recent and most serious act. The arsonist set the truck on fire last week while someone was sleeping inside. Firefighters managed to pull the owner out.

"If you're willing to set a car on fire with somebody in it, you need to be stopped," says resident Todd Wilkerson.

Residents in the densely populated community are worried. The fires are set in clusters. Five were set in May, a few more in June and nine on Sept. 1.

"There was a car that caught on fire and it burned two pine trees and two mattresses and a vehicle," says resident Edward Pepper.

Four full-time investigators are assigned to the case and finding the arsonist before another fire is set is a priority.

"It's grown by intensity and severity and [we're] trying to put a stop to this before anybody does get hurt or killed," says Pitts.

The man police are looking for is Hispanic, 19 or 20 years old, 5'8" to 5'10" and he has a slender build. Police are not ruling out the possibility that he could live in the neighborhood.


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