SLO arson suspect arrested for starting fires at Madonna Plaza

August 16, 2023



San Luis Obispo police officers arrested a man for allegedly starting at least three fires at the Madonna Plaza shopping center on Tuesday.

Shortly after 4 p.m., witnesses reported a pallet on fire next to a building at Madonna Plaza. Witnesses observed a man, later identified as 34-year-old Cody Allen Miller, lighting and adding trash to the fire, according to the San Luis Obispo Police Department. 

Then, witnesses observed Miller set two more fires in the shopping center, one in a dumpster behind a restaurant and one in the cab of an unoccupied truck in the parking lot. 

Firefighters and police officers arrived at the scene. Fire personnel extinguished the blazes, while officers apprehended Miller after he fled across the street to Laguna Lake Park.

Authorities booked Miller in San Luis Obispo County Jail on three felony counts of arson and one misdemeanor count of providing false identification to a police officer. Miller remains in custody with his bail set at $25,000, according to the county sheriff’s office website. 

Police say there is no known motive for Miler to start the fires. The estimated cost of the damage is still being determined. 

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While holding parents at least somewhat responsible for the actions of their underaged kids may be of some effect against fires set maliciously for fun, the amount of “bail” and such will have little effect on adults who set these fires due to pyromania. Pyromania is a mental illness, and that person needs to be held indefinitely, if the public is to be protected from the perpetrator’s compulsions.

Arson for pay is yet another matter, which needs to be treated like pyromania, in my opinion. Knowing that one would spend the rest of their natural life in a mental institution might make the crime less appealing compared to the possible “payoff”. I consider such consequences very much in line with the dangers and the damage posed by fire.

I don’t know all the facts here, but it sounds very much like someone who has a real problem and just needs to be situated where he can put the public and our environment at no further risk.

Learn what fire can do to SLO town from Maui! Zero tolerance for folks that set open fires, no bail, five year minimums. Do this before half the town is burnt down.

Bail reform is nuts! Ten years ago, bail for one misdemeanor and three felony charges would’ve been $50,000 minimum to perhaps $75,000. Why are prices for absolutely everything inflated today, yet bail amounts are shrinking? The ‘Criminal Justice System’ needs an overhaul, redirection of focus and a makeover of the name. Going forward it should be called the “Justice for Victim’s System”.