Arsonist melts four vehicles, gets away

Arsonist melts four vehicles, gets away

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by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on June 3, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 3:46 PM

MERIDIAN -- Residents in a quiet Meridian neighborhood are feeling frightened and alarmed after waking up to find multiple cars completely torched while still parked in their driveways. 

Meridian Police said the destruction of several cars happened in the early morning hours of Friday, June 1.  Police haven’t been able to catch who is responsible, and that fact is making some residents even more nervous.

PJ Chapman lives near one of the homes where a pickup truck was found burning on Friday. Sunday, he explained to KTVB how he was alerted to the arson.

“My wife woke me up at around four, and was panicking because of all the sirens and lights,” he said. “I came out the next morning and was pretty astonished. We didn't really see the extent of the damage until the morning.”

Police say the damage to the truck was very severe, and the pickup was a total loss. Also down the street was a Chevrolet Suburban, with similar damage from fire.

Meridian Police Sergeant Brian Caldwell said of the four vehicles that were targets of arson, three were damaged beyond repair.

One was found torched on Lauderhill Road, and two on Elm Creek Road, and another was found farther away from the subdivision near Ten Mile Road. 

Police say the suspect is still unknown, and officers are still investigating the crimes. However, Sgt. Caldwell did say investigators believe arsons are a random act.

On Sunday, family members who own the damaged Surburban told KTVB that they were upset, not only over the burned car, but also the contents inside. Their son's school supplies, baseball equipment and even his four bowling balls were all lost in the fire.

“I heard this 'pop-pop' and I was like 'What the heck?'” said neighbor Kristen Larsen. “And I went and looked out here, and this pickup over here was just an inferno. I mean, it was burning hot."

Like many, Larsen is thankful her car was not a target. “I usually leave my windows down and I am fortunate I didn't that night,” she said.

But Sgt. Caldwell said that single factor appears to be the problem -- the burned vehicles had unlocked doors.

Chapman was recently the victim of a mountain bike theft. He said whoever stole that walked into his garage in the middle of the day and simply took it. His family now keeps their cars inside the garage and still locks the doors. He now believes his quiet and safe neighborhood is shifting.

“Had this been my car and it blown up, caught my house on fire, who knows what could have happened," Chapman said. "They're lucky they aren't looking at murder charges or something like that."

Meridian Police are still looking for the suspect or suspects in the arsons. If you have any tips, you're asked to call the Meridian Police Department at (208) 888-6678.

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