Police bait car torched by Gilbert teens

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by Alicia E. Barrón

azfamily.com

Posted on February 2, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 3 at 11:01 AM

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GILBERT, Ariz. – Five Gilbert teenagers are accused of setting fire to a bait car used by the Gilbert Police Department.

Bill Balafas, a spokesman for the department, said they have been using bait cars for five to six years and it has helped officers arrest criminals, but they’ve never seen a case like this one.

Police left a 1997 Honda Accord parked with the windows rolled down and the doors unlocked.

Two teenagers allegedly threw some type of firework inside the passenger’s side of the vehicle, causing it to catch on fire.

“The vehicle was completely burned down,” Balafas said.

The car fire took place at around 2:30 a.m. on Monday in the parking lot of an apartment complex on North Gilbert Road.

According to police reports, Anthony Rubio, 18, and Kari Caldwell, 19, along with three others, broke into the car and stole an iPod and a solar charging panel hours before setting it on fire.

Rubio reportedly told officers he had suspected the car was a bait car so he went back to the vehicle and threw the firework through the window.

“They apparently had been throwing fireworks throughout the complex that evening," Balafas said. "They had thrown one in a shopping cart and throughout the parking lot. What their intent was or what they thought would happen was unknown.”

The teen suspects reportedly admitted to the theft and arson. All five were arrested and charged.

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