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I'm just a citizen - How do I help catch this guy?

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  • I'm just a citizen - How do I help catch this guy?

    My neighborhood has been hit by a series of car arson fires every 3 or 4 months or so (how many I'm not sure of, but my building manager said the whole neighborhood has been hit repeatedly. The last one, I witnessed a gentleman fleeing the scene in a suspicious manner mere minutes before I smelled smoke coming from the parking area under my apartment, and I can describe him in great detail. Fortunately, unlike the other very serious fire set a few months earlier in the building next to mine, this fire was put out before the firfighters even arrived. I informed the head Fireman who reported that I "saw the guy" and yet, because I did not see him start the fire, the fireman said my seeing this person fleeing the scene wouldn't prove anthing in court, and just took my name and phone # and that was it, but he never asked me what the guy looked like.

    Since then, no arson investigator has contacted me to get this information either, and I can give a fairly detailed description of the person who was most defintely fleeing the scene in a suspicion manner just moments before I smelled smoke.. So the question is, what do I do? I live in a big city, Los Angeles, so maybe these incidents are so spread apart timewise, that the arson investigator hasn't put a lot of effort into it, or maybe he has a backlog of cases, I don't know... But it seems to me, having a detailed description of the guy, what he was wearing, and the unusual way and route that I saw him flee the scene might be helpful to investigators.

    Should I call the fire department, call my local council person, what? I wan't this guy caught. Besides the fact that he's destroying mostly poor people's property, he could get somebody killed someday, and I take it personally when somebody sets a fire twenty feet below the bed that I sleep in, so I don't want to be ignored without a fight. For all I know, my desscription may fit perfectly a person living nearby who has a criminal record of this. If in questioning, he knew there was a witness who can describe what he was wearing and the unnusal way he left the scene, he might confess, even though I "didn't see him set it".

    any advice would be welcome.

  • #2
    Does the LA Metro area have a "Crime Stoppers". Call them and report what you see. It will be hard to prove the "runner" wasn't just running. But, at least getting the ball rolling may be a good idea.

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    • #3
      Most police departments have a tip line. I would recommend finding out what that is for your area. Or you can always call your local police department. It make take a little while on the phone to get to the person who you need to talk to, but stick with it.


      Forget cockroaches, we all need to squish firebugs.
      Fir Na Tine
      Fir Na Au Saol

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      • #4
        Like these guys say, call a tip line. You might even be able to contact the FD and request to talk to an investigator or fire marshal. I know our state has an arson hotline, maybe LAFD does?

        I wouldn't necessarily take what the firefighter said to you as the word of god. I've had some of our firefighters do similar things not understanding how the investigation end of things went. If you've got a description of someone fleeing, at least it's a lead and something they can look for, especially if others are reporting someone of the same description at other fires.

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        • #5
          You need to contact the Arson Section. They are responsible for all criminal fire investigations in the city. Their number is 213-485-6095. As stated before, the company officer that you referred to may have not been aware of the other fires at your location. I will be willing to bet that they will take the information you have and be able to develop some good leads. It may also be possible that you will be the one who gets this person off the streets. So now it is car fires, what is next. Most fire starters start small and then escalate to other type fires.

          Good luck. Also, thank you for willing to assist in the apprehension of this person.
          Last edited by BFDLT32; 08-17-2006, 06:30 PM.
          K-9 hunt, the ultimate challange.
          EVERYONE GOES HOME
          IACOJ

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          • #6
            Thanks BFD... did as you said and called the #, the guy was very thorough and took down all the info I had. I would think an investigator catching this guy might get a medal or something, so hopefully they take this info and run with it. I read up on serial arsonists last night and it sounds like this creep is what they call a Disorganized serial arsonist-Offender, so he likely lives nearby and has a criminal record, so maybe they can zero in on a suspect now. I now feel like I've done all I can do so it's in their hands now. The LAFD should improve their website a bit though. I shouldn't have had to find and register with this website to get that phone #.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by johnsamo
              Thanks BFD... did as you said and called the #, the guy was very thorough and took down all the info I had. I would think an investigator catching this guy might get a medal or something, so hopefully they take this info and run with it. I read up on serial arsonists last night and it sounds like this creep is what they call a Disorganized serial arsonist-Offender, so he likely lives nearby and has a criminal record, so maybe they can zero in on a suspect now. I now feel like I've done all I can do so it's in their hands now. The LAFD should improve their website a bit though. I shouldn't have had to find and register with this website to get that phone #.

              Glad that you were able to get in touch with them. I am sure that they will be able to get this person off the streets. I do agree with you on their website and phone numbers. I spent a little time working to find it. It did help having a friend that works in the division.
              K-9 hunt, the ultimate challange.
              EVERYONE GOES HOME
              IACOJ

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