Iowa City man charged with breaking into and setting fires in an unoccupied home


Matthew Ring

Rin Swann, News Reporter

An Iowa City Man has been charged with lighting a fire in an unoccupied residence he broke into and disabling all the smoke detectors. 

Alexander Torres, 30, was charged April 29 with second-degree criminal mischief, first-degree criminal mischief, possession of burglar’s tools, trespassing — injury/damage greater than $200, and reckless use of fire/explosives.

According to the arrest affidavit, Torres entered 824 Caroline Ave. without permission. The residence was unoccupied and listed for sale. 

Torres entered the residence through a window, where he damaged an air conditioning unit to gain access to the building. According to the affidavit, the victim said Torres had been staying there for two days, as the victim had been there two days prior to a walk-through. 

Torres also destroyed floor tiles from chopping wood. The victim estimated $2,000 worth of damage.

Other damages to the residence included burnt hardwood from a fire in the main living room and the removal and destruction of the smoke detectors, the affidavit said. He also damaged window screens, created several holes in the downstairs drywall, cut out carpeting in the downstairs living room, and broke a window and several light fixtures. There was also excessive smoke damage from fires he lit.

Torres started a small fire on the main floor of the residence on the hardwood, the affidavit said. Then, he cut out the carpet at a lower level and had a larger fire that was still smoldering inside the residence, filling the house with smoke. The damage was worth approximately $12,000.  

Torres also had a backpack in the residence that contained several burglars tools, the affidavit said, including several Allen wrenches, large pliers, part of scissors, a screwdriver, and a hatchet.

Torres was located hiding behind the furnace in the utility closet on the lower level.

First-degree criminal mischief is a Class-C felony and second-degree criminal mischief is a Class-D felony.

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