Three teenage boys are in custody in connection with a rash of crudely drawn swastikas that popped up in the San Dimas area last week, and detectives believe the same group is behind a series of arson fires nearby, officials said Tuesday.
A family who lives on the 1400 block of Greenhaven Street first noticed the offensive symbols burned into the artificial turf in their front yard shortly before 9 a.m. last Thursday, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Peter Shupe.
The family is not Jewish and authorities do not believe they were singled out, Shupe noted.
It appeared the vandalism was carried out with a caustic chemical or flame.
Later on Thursday, deputies found similar swastikas burned into the roadway around the corner from the home, on Valley Center Street, in an unincorporated area between San Dimas and Covina.
By Sunday, another swastika was discovered burned on the street in the 1200 block of Stratford Lane, in San Dimas less than a mile from the first two locations, according to a sheriff’s news release.
Within the same time frame, three small brush fires were set within the Charter Oak Estates mobile home park at 801 W. Covina Blvd., a short distance east from the vandalism sites. A security camera in the development was also vandalized, officials said.
Investigators learned that three boys, ages 13 and 14, were spotted in the area in the late night hours during which the incidents occurred.
Sheriff’s officials identified them as a 14-year-old from Long Beach, and two 13-year-olds, one from Covina and the other from Hemet.
The boys were found Monday in San Dimas and eventually taken to juvenile detention. They are not being publicly identified due to their status as minors.
After obtaining a search warrant, investigators determined the group used cigarette lighters and aerosol cans to spark the small blazes.
The suspects were implicated in the crime series by their own statements, witness testimony, surveillance video and other evidence, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Deputies are investigating the incidents as arson, vandalism and hate crimes, and they plan to submit the case to the district attorney’s office.
Though a motive is still unclear, investigators do not believe any of the acts were meant to target a specific person or group of people.