Crime & Courts

Man tried to hide power tool crime by burning down the security cameras, SC cops say

Robert Brown was charged with arson for setting a fire at a construction site.
Robert Brown was charged with arson for setting a fire at a construction site. Al Cannon Detention Center

A South Carolina man tried to cover up one crime, leading him to be charged in another, according to state law enforcement.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, said Robert Brown started a fire at a Charleston-area construction company’s office to destroy evidence showing him stealing a power tool, according to an affidavit.

The 54-year-old Hollywood man intentionally set a fire at James F. Pederson Construction on Jan. 25, SLED reported.

Photos of the fire shared on Twitter show flames burning through the building’s roof, eventually destroying part of it, WCSC reported.

“The fire caused serious damage to the structure, which resulted in a total loss of the building and the items located inside,” the affidavit said.

Police said Brown knew where surveillance cameras were located, as well as the hard drives in the office, and set the fire “to conceal the theft of Stihl Chop Saws in order to destroy the surveillance video footage,” according to the affidavit.

Brown confessed to stealing the chop saws, after he was found with one after pawning it for $400 on the morning of the fire, it says in the affidavit.

Brown was charged with second-degree arson, SLED said in a news release.

He was booked at the Al Cannon Detention Center on Tuesday morning, and remains behind bars after his bond was set at $200,000, jail records show.

Joheida Fister, fire marshal with the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division, talks about the telltale signs of arson.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.