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Minami

Guadalupe man allegedly steals Christmas tree, sets it on fire inside SMPD

A Guadalupe man was arrested after allegedly snatching one of the Christmas trees from the Santa Maria Police Department and setting it on fire inside the lobby Sunday, according to law enforcement officials. 

Just before 4 p.m., Santa Maria Police officers were called to the front lobby to check the welfare of Steven Minami, 23, who had phoned the communications center, stating he believed someone had hacked into his computer and that he was paranoid. 

When officials didn't respond as fast as he wanted, Minami grabbed a department-decorated Christmas tree and placed it on top of some chairs, police said. He then lit the tree on fire, which caused the building's fire protection sprinkler system to activate. 

The sprinklers quickly extinguished the fire, however a large amount of smoke filled the front of the building. 

Minami was located just outside the department and arrested. He was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felony arson, vandalism and public intoxication. His bail is set at $250,000. 

A portion of the department's interior walls and flooring sustained water and smoke damage, according to the Santa Maria Police Department, but the extent of the damage still is under evaluation. 

A Guadalupe man was arrested after allegedly snatching one of the Christmas trees from the Santa Maria Police Department and setting it on fire inside the lobby Sunday, according to law enforcement officials. 

Just before 4 p.m., Santa Maria Police officers were called to the front lobby to check the welfare of Steven Minami, 23, who had phoned the communications center, stating he believed someone had hacked into his computer and that he was paranoid. 

When officials didn't respond as fast as he wanted, Minami grabbed a department-decorated Christmas tree and placed it on top of some chairs, police said. He then lit the tree on fire, which caused the building's fire protection sprinkler system to activate. 

The sprinklers quickly extinguished the fire, however a large amount of smoke filled the front of the building. 

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Minami was located just outside the department and arrested. He was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felony arson, vandalism and public intoxication. His bail is set at $250,000. 

A portion of the department's interior walls and flooring sustained water and smoke damage, according to the Santa Maria Police Department, but the extent of the damage still is under evaluation. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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