Paso Robles police arrest three men for arson and theft

March 20, 2020

Paso Robles police arrested the men who allegedly conspired to ignite a fire inside Lowe’s home improvement store Sunday night in order to create a distraction as they stole a pipe threader.

Shortly after 8 p.m., a man entered the Paso Robles Lowe’s located at 2445 Golden Hill Road. The man staged a rolling pipe threader by covering it with a canvas drop cloth, according to police.

After the men set the fire, alarms sounded and sprinklers activated. The man then pushed the pipe threader out of the store while another suspect stood watch.

All customers in the store safely evacuated, and firefighters contained the blaze within five minutes of arrival. No one suffered injuries, and the Lowe’s store reopened Monday morning.

Following the incident, police circulated surveillance images of three suspects inside the store.

On Thursday, officers arrested Jose Mendoza and Rufino Vargas on charges of grand theft and conspiracy. Then on Friday, officers arrested Jose Ramon Gonzalez Dominguez on charges of arson, grand theft and conspiracy.

Vargas, 64, is currently in San Luis Obispo County Jail with his bail set at $20,000, according to the sheriff’s office website. Gonzalez Dominguez, 36, is in custody with his bail set at $250,000. It appears Mendoza posted bail.