Group coordinates theft of pipe threader from hardware store

At 8:16 PM on Sunday March 15th, Paso Robles Fire and Emergency Services responded to the Lowe’s Home Improvement Center located at 2445 Golden Hill Road for a reported Fire Alarm Activation from the retailer’s alarm company.

Prior to arrival Paso Robles Emergency Dispatch Center contacted store management and was advised of an actual fire within building. The incident was upgraded to a full commercial structure fire response.

The Paso Robles Police Department also responded to assist. PRPD learned the fire was intentionally started and began to investigate the arson with PRES.

Firefighters on scene found a light amount of smoke coming from the entrance of the building. Within 5 minutes of arrival the fire was fully contained. The buildings fire sprinkler system played a significant role in minimizing fire growth which prevented additional damage to the building and merchandise.

All customers were safely evacuated from the store and no injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported. Crews remained on scene for approximately 3 hours conducting salvage and overhaul operations to remove smoke and water from the business. Lowe’s Home Improvement was able to remain open for business on Monday morning following the fire. The fire remains under investigation.

Investigators learned that a male suspect entered Lowe’s shortly after 8 pm. The suspect staged a rolling pipe threader nearby and covered it with a canvas drop cloth. Once the fire was set, alarms sounded, and sprinklers activated. With the distraction complete, the suspect pushed the pipe threader out of the store, under the watchful eye of at least one other individual.

Since that time PRPD has learned the suspect was working with at least three other men to complete this theft. All pictures are attached. PRPD is looking for the publics help in identifying the people of interest and possibly associated vehicle.

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