Police Say Arsonist Steals From Cars, Then Torches It

POSTED: 1:52 pm MDT May 4, 2006
UPDATED: 3:30 pm MDT May 4, 2006

WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- Westminster police are investigating 10 suspicious fires that have occurred in the past three weeks in the neighborhoods surrounding Standley Lake.

All of the fires were a result of arson, investigators said Thursday.

The fires, which began April 13, have damaged a portable toilet, six vehicles and three Dumpsters. The latest fires occurred overnight on Wednesday. Three cars were torched by that arson.

Police said the arsonist appears to break into vehicles to steal items inside and then after the theft, sets miscellaneous papers and combustible materials on fire inside the vehicle. Damage to the cars varies, police said. In some cases, the fire totally consumes the vehicle, while in other cases, the fire damage is minimal.

The items stolen from the cars also varies. Total losses in all 10 case amount to more than $30,000, police said.

Investigators don't know the motive for the fires but malicious mischief is suspected. The arsons normally occur between evening hours through 3 am.

The 10 fires in Westminster occurred between 100th and 86th avenues and Wadsworth Boulevard and Simms Street. Arvada Police are also investigating two suspicious fires with similar circumstances.

Police asked people living in the area to report any suspicious activity or loitering. They also remind drivers to secure their valuables or hide or remove them from cars before leaving the car unattended.

Anyone who has more information to provide Westimster police or fire departments is asked to call (303) 430-2400. Callers can also call Crime Stoppers at (7200 913-STOP or the CBI Arson Hotline at (877) 89-ARSON. Crime Stoppers and Arson Hotline callers can choose to remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

"Arson fires are matters of great public safety concern. Any fire has the potential to set neighboring grasslands or structures a blaze," Westminster police spokesman Tim Read said.

No one has been injured in any of the fires.