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Redding Police say woman arrested for fire is a repeat offender

Carmona's Appliance Center in Redding damaged by transient fire.

One person has been arrested after a fire damaged a business in Redding. The owner says he recognized the woman who started the fire because she has been a problem in the past. Police are familiar with her as well, a reminder of a bigger problem they're aiming to fix.

Joe Heslin, owner of Carmona's Appliance Center in Redding was woken up early Friday morning to find out part of his store caught fire after a homeless woman started a fire nearby.

The owner said he recognized the woman who started the fire because she frequents that part of Redding, often stealing cardboard boxes from the store's supply for her own shelter.

"We've seen her on and off for years the last year or so, rummaging through our trash and hanging out. This time she actually started a fire on the corner of our building. We were pretty lucky somebody called it in because it could have been a pretty traumatic situation," Heslin said.

Like many business owners in Redding, Heslin has reported transient activity near his store before. He said he knows officers are doing what they can, it is just a largely growing problem in the Shasta County.

"Overtime I've always called him multiple times over the years but there's only so much they can do. I think everybody already knows the homeless situation, problems are occurring more and now that it's cold they are starting fires," Heslin added.

Redding Police Chief Roger Moore said officers have had multiple contacts with the woman who is at fault for $3,000 worth of damage to the store, which scorched the side of the building and damaged the front fence.

"She had been arrested a few times throughout the year," Chief Moore said. "The unfortunate thing is we have a lot of calls for service and over 100,000 calls for service a day with mostly only 7 police officers working and a supervisor so that creates a lot of lag time for us to get to calls like this."

The chief said his department wants to keep up on these calls just as much as business owners want them to but officers' hands are often tied unless there is a real crime committed.

In this case, the woman arrested was not only arrested for starting the fire but on a warrant, one example behind the chief's goal for the department this new year.

"We have a situation now where as we go into 2019 I'm going to start concentrating on our repeat offenders," Chief Moore said Redding has 30 people in the community who account for 422 arrests. "Just 30 people. Those are multiple arrests, some of them had 24 arrests and that is unacceptable so those are the folks we're going to be paying attention to this year and so I'm thankful we're getting new jail beds so we can start this program," Chief Moore emphasized.

Chief Moore also said the Redding Police Department is working with Hill Country and The Shasta County Health and Human Service Agency to provide Redding with a Mobile Crisis Unit. He said the mobile unit will give officers a new tool, meaning when they come across someone that is not committing a crime but is in crisis, the officer will be able to call the Mobile Crisis Unit to respond and help that person.

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