Police: Arson string spurred by 'boredom'

LAWRENCEVILLE - Authorities said two teen arsonists have lent truth to the adage that idle hands are the devil's playthings.

Gwinnett County Fire Investigators arrested Richard StClair, 18, of Buford, and Jeffrey Jones, 17, of Hoschton, on felony charges of first and third degree arson Tuesday. The two friends used a lighter and paper to ignite three trashcans on two mornings last week, damaging a business along Gravel Springs Road near Dacula, officials said.

Both suspects told investigators they set the fires "out of boredom," Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said.

Tips from witnesses led investigators to the suspects. Both remain at the Gwinnett County Jail on $33,400 bond.

The first fire occurred about 6 a.m. on Aug. 20 and involved two large plastic trash containers outside a UPS store and an Italian restaurant in a Kroger Shopping Center.

As investigators were looking into those fires, another burning trashcan damaged a Walgreens drug store across the road about 4 a.m. the following day.

The fire damaged the side of the building, with heat causing a window to break. The container was situated close to the building and could have easily torched the entire structure, Rutledge said.

"We're fortunate that firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before it caused more serious damage," he said.

A probable cause hearing for the teens is scheduled Tuesday morning in Gwinnett Magistrate Court.