Police have arrested a Palo Alto man they believe is responsible for setting fire to a number of rental trucks in a local U-Haul lot in July, said a spokeswoman with the Mountain View Police Department.
The man, 48-year-old Jesse Jakubik, was seen shortly after midnight sneaking through a hole in the fence out of the U-Haul lot, located at 62 W. El Camino Real, said Liz Wylie, public information officer for Mountain View police. Sgt. Tony Vieyra spotted Jakubik leaving the U-Haul property, followed him and arrested him near his truck, which was parked on Highway 237.
Officers discovered four five-gallon containers filled with gasoline and 13 empty five-gallon containers in the bed of Jakubik's truck, Wylie said. A siphon was found still inserted in one of the rental trucks parked on the U-Haul lot.
Jakubik was arrested for prowling on private property, possession of stolen property and violating his probation, Wylie said. Jakubik had been recently convicted of drug-related charges, she said.
Just before midnight on July 20, a fire burned eight trucks on the same U-Haul lot, Wylie said. Prior to the fire, the owners of the Mountain View U-Haul told police that someone had been sneaking into the lot on a regular basis and siphoning gasoline out of their trucks. The blaze prompted the evacuation of several nearby residences, due to fire's proximity to a large propane tank on the lot.
After reviewing security footage from the U-Haul lot, investigators said that Jakubik resembled a man captured by cameras on the night of the fire, Wylie said, and his jacket resembled that of the man seen in that security footage. He was charged with burglary and unlawfully starting the fire '" a charge that differs from arson. In order to be considered arson, it must be proven that the guilty party set the fire intentionally and with malicious intent. Unlawfully starting a fire means that the fire was started due to recklessness.
Jakubik was booked into county jail, Wylie said.