Arrests made in East Valley arson cases. (Source: Mesa Police Department)
Most recent shots for Travis Lee Hanson, Zachary Bergin and Clayton Charles Becker (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
No one was hurt in any of the fires. (Source: Mesa Police Department)
One of the vehicles set on fire on Sept. 13, 2012. (Source: Chandler Police Department)
MESA, AZ (CBS5) -
Arrests were made Thursday in a string of 27 arson cases that plagued the East Valley for the past 15 months.
Mesa police said four people have been arrested in connection with setting vehicles, sheds, homes and landscapes on fire. They are identified as Clayton Becker, 19; Travis Hanson, 19; Spencer Owens, 20; and Zachary Bergin, 18.
Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead said besides all the vehicle arsons, they allegedly set two different schools on fire.
"One of the vehicles set on fire started a structure fire," Milstead said.
In one of the incidents on Sept. 13, four vehicles were found ablaze in Chandler and four others that someone had tried to set on fire. Two cars in Mesa were also torched in that one incident alone.
"These individuals were able to burn anything they wanted to at will and started the fires with a butane torch," Milstead said.
Over the past 60 days, police identified Hanson as the main person of interest, Milstead said.
"We actually made some purchases of drugs from the suspects and that gave us a relationship with them to see what was going on," Milstead said.
The chief said they were able to get some confessions, leading to their arrests on Thursday.
"These were individuals who were bent on destroying things," said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. "This was the result of leads that were followed, interviews that were conducted and a puzzle that was put together and we have four individuals off the streets, who hopefully will do no more harm."
No one was hurt in any of the incidents.
Police said they worked with ATF agents and the Mesa Fire Department in the investigation.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
[Text BREAKING to 23765 to get news alerts on your mobile phone]
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
322 Shipyard Boulevard
Wilmington, NC 28412
Main Phone Number: (910) 791-8070
Newsroom: (910) 791-6681