Arsonist set Lincoln Park, Lakeview fires to “calm himself down,” prosecutors say


Juan Carlos Arias is accused of setting this fire on the 2600 block of North Orchard in July 2020. | CPD; Provided

A Palatine man set a series of arson fires across Lakeview and Lincoln Park to calm himself down after having arguments with his girlfriend, according to prosecutors.

Police arrested Juan Carlos Arias, age 43, shortly after a wave of fires broke out early Thursday. He is also charged with setting at least one fire during another arson spree in the same area on June 29.

Prosecutors said surveillance video captured images of Arias riding a bike through a North Side alley on June 29, assembling materials on top of a trash can, and then setting the pile on fire. The blaze spread to a nearby garage.

Chicago police detectives distributed photos of that arsonist to patrol officers shortly after the fire.

Another video allegedly him riding his bike through an alley on the 2600 block of North Orchard around 5 a.m. Thursday. He is seen walking up to a trash can that bursts into flames moments after he left the area, prosecutors said. The fire burned two garages and damaged three cars.

A police sergeant stopped Arias a few minutes later for riding his bike on a sidewalk near Wiggly Field Dog Park, 2645 North Sheffield. The sergeant noticed that Arias resembled the June arsonist and took him into custody.

Arias told detectives that “he lights fires to calm himself down” and “he got into a fight with his girlfriend,” an assistant states attorney said during his bond hearing on Friday.

Prosecutors charged Arias with three felony counts of arson. Judge Charles Beach set bail at $10,000 and ordered Arias to go onto electronic monitoring if he can post a $1,000 deposit bond.

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