>SANTA CRUZ — An arsonist or arsonists set five cars ablaze early Sunday in a potentially dangerous crime with no clear motive.

Posted on June 24, 2010

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Investigators are probing whether the rash of Eastside arsons is connected to recent suspicious car fires on the Westside and in Aptos.

Sunday’s fires, reported between 2:50 and 3:30 a.m., destroyed BMW, Jaguar and Acura sedans, a Honda Passport and a Toyota pickup, police said. The vehicles were parked on Market Street, Grunewald Court, Branciforte Drive and Grant Street.

On Branciforte Drive, flames from the Acura leapt into a tree feet away from a propane tank. And on Market Street, a fire in the Passport came within about 9 feet of the home, police said.

“This is an unusual act of vandalism,” Capt. Steve Clark said. “And it’s very frightening to have someone light your car on fire in front of your house. Not only is there the costly damage to the car, but the potential for residual damage and injury.”

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