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Santa Monica Police Arrest Suspect in Series of Trash Bin Fires


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By Lookout Staff

January 4, 2018 -- Police have arrested a man who could be responsible for a series of fires set in trash cans in Santa Monica alleys over the past two weeks.

Joseph Brent Burchett, a 57-year-old male, was arrested Thursday night in connection to a fire set Wednesday in a trash can in a Montana Avenue alley, according to Santa Monica Police.

Arson suspect Detectives are working to determine if there are any links to at least 14 other fires set on December 22, and on Tuesday and Thursday of this week, according to police.

The fires appear to have been intentionally set near buildings in alleyways north of Santa Monica Boulevard, police said.

There have been no reports of injuries or damage to structures, according to news reports ("Santa Monica Police Search for Serial Arsonist," January 4, 2019).

Police were led to Burchett during a preliminary investigation after responding to Thursday's fire at about 5:20 p.m. in an alley of the 2800 block of Montana Avenue.

At about 11:30 p.m., police located Burchett in the 1900 block of Arizona Avenue and took him into custody, said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the Police Department spokesman.

Burned bin
Burned bin that led to Thursday's arrest (Photo by Ryan Kinrade)

Burchett was booked for arson and remains in custody at SMPD Jail with a bail option of $50,000, Rodriguez said.

The case will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office-Airport Branch for filing consideration on Monday.

Anyone with information related to any of the incidents should call the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8491, Detective Cooper at (310) 458-8478 or Sergeant Skogh at (310) 458-8992.

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