Homeless Pants-On-Fire Arson, Vandalism Suspect Captured in La Verne
LA VERNE: Alan Cheng (19), a transient from Pomona, was arrested on Sunday, August 7, as the suspect who went on an arson and vandalism spree on Foothill Boulevard in La Verne.
Cheng was captured wearing the clothes seen on surveillance footage which captured an arson-in-progress. Video footage at Mr. D’s Diner showed him using his pants to set fire to a grease container before 10 p.m. on August 2nd outside the rear of the establishment.
Officials reported that the rampage included a vehicle lit on fire outside a Molly Maid business, a gazebo ignited at the neighboring Outdoor Elegance, and a trash can set ablaze at Jack in the Box, before Cheng crossed the road to torch another trash can at the Union 76 gas station.
Cheng smashed windows at Outdoor Elegance, Inland Dental, and Kiddie Academy.
La Verne PD Detective Matthew Hadan’s written statement had asked for the public’s assistance in locating the unidentified “145-lb., 5’6” white male with black wavy hair who was wanted for multiple counts of arson and vandalism.” Lieutenant Sam Gonzales advised to use caution, as the behavior reported “was very erratic and not normal.”
Mr. D’s Diner owner Stefano Kosmides said Chen “broke a lot of stuff in the restroom and was acting bizarrely. The staff saw that he had a knife. They worried about their lives because he was obviously on drugs.” Staff had no idea of the fire ignited in back while Cheng ordered a salad, gobbled it up, then suddenly got up and ran out without paying.
His knife was found in the booth after he left. Drug paraphernalia, including a glass pipe, was found in back near the ignited grease container. The fire was discovered a short time later and distinguished by employees.
The damage estimate, bail, and motive have not been released at this time.
Detective Hadan concluded, “We believe he was impaired. He was wandering around, almost aimlessly. All of the fires remained relatively small. It could have been way worse. It was very fortunate.”