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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014

St. Pete woman accused of burglary in neighborhood beset by arsons

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Published:   |   Updated: May 1, 2013 at 06:35 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

Police arrested a woman on a burglary charge Monday after a surveillance camera captured her at an unoccupied house in the Causeway Isles neighborhood, which has experienced a rash of unsolved arsons in recent months.
 
Surveillance footage shows Jessica Sowick, 26, writing “You Never Got Me” and “Fire Starter” on the house, at 181 79th St. N., which has been set on fire three times, according to police.
 
Sowick, who lives in the neighborhood with her mother, was arrested on a charge of burglary to an unoccupied dwelling and was released after posting $10,000 bail. She admitted she was the one videotaped at the unoccupied home but denied setting fire to the house or to any others in the neighborhood, police said.
 
A call to Sowick's mother today was not returned.
 
Since Oct. 2011, there have been six arsons at four properties in Causeway Isles, a subdivision just south of the Treasure Island Causeway, where waterfront homes on fingers of land jut out into the Intracoastal Waterway.
 
Investigators installed a video surveillance camera at the 79th Street home, hoping to gather evidence that would lead to an arrest in the arsons.
 
The camera captured Sowick walking through a gate in a hoodie at 1:50 a.m. Friday and scrawling graffiti on three outside walls, causing an estimated $300 in damage, according to police.
 
Fires believed by investigators to be intentionally set destroyed two homes in the neighborhood, and a dog died in one of those. The owners of those homes have since moved.
 
The unsolved arsons set the neighborhood on edge, prompting residents to install video surveillance systems, alarms and extra lighting. No one has been arrested for setting the fires.

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