Man accused of setting fires to steal from OC fire houses

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A man is accused of intentionally starting fires and then stealing from several Orange County fire houses while crews rush to put out the flames.

Surveillance video from a fire station in Santa Ana shows an engine with its lights flashing, racing to a call. Moments later, a man runs across the street, toward the station. Santa Ana police believe he snuck inside, before a garage closed, so he could steal money.

Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of Santa Ana PD said the suspect was taking money from a cash box where firefighters keep their money for food.

Police believe the man was intentionally setting fires near the stations to lure the crews out.

In another surveillance video, police said the suspect drives into a neighborhood, which is just blocks from a station, and sets a car on fire. In the video, you can see the flare-up before he drives off.

"Arson to commit a burglary at a fire station, so does he have a personal beef with firefighters? Why is he targeting fire stations?" Bertagna asked.

Authorities said they don't have a description of the suspect but know he's driving a 2000 to 2005 Buick LeSabre.

A 2000 to 2005 Buick LeSabre, which is the type of car believed to be driven by a man accused of setting fires in Orange County and stealing from fire houses.

Police believe the suspect stole money from a station in Anaheim and tried doing the same in other Orange County fire stations and the Inland Empire.

Authorities hope someone will come forward with information, so they can stop this before someone gets hurt.

"One of these things could explode into a very large fire and when you're doing it in residential areas, you're talking about a lot of homes and a lot of people," said Bertagna.

Anyone with information on this case was asked to contact SAPD Detective A. Gonzalez at 714-245-8732, or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

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