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Officials believe truck torching connected to earlier attacks on Hemet police

March 24, 2010 | 10:47 am

Hemet police are investigating the torching of four code enforcement trucks in a city parking lot Tuesday night, believing it to be part of a pattern of attacks targeting them since December.

The four white pickups showed signs of burning this morning in the roped off lot as investigators scoured the area for clues. Last week state Atty. General Jerry Brown announced a $200,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the attacks.

The first three were booby traps aimed at members of the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force.

Hemet police said they believe Tuesday night's incident, just a block from the police station, was connected to the earlier assaults.

So far there are no suspects but gang officers recently launched a crackdown on the Vagos motorcycle gang, which has a reputation for infiltrating police departments.

In December, a gas utility line was redirected to fill the offices with gas; any spark could have triggered an explosion. In February, a modified handgun was hidden by the gate to the office and rigged to fire. When a gang officer opened the gate, the weapon went off, narrowly missing him. And two weeks ago, police said, a "dangerous" device was found near the unmarked car of a task-force member.

On Friday afternoon, someone called 911 saying a police car would be blown up in the next two days as revenge for a law-enforcement sweep earlier this week of a local motorcycle gang.

--David Kelly in Hemet

Photo: Investigators at the scene where several Hemet city trucks were set ablaze late Tuesday night. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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