Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigators were perplexed by a rash of arson fires around the neighborhood of Los Feliz in early June. The dozen or so rubbish fires were started in trashcans near bus shelters and were put out immediately by city firefighters.

Investigators caught a break later that month after a fire chief driving around Los Feliz for clues happened upon a rubbish fire slowly burning in a trashcan near Louise’s Trattoria on Los Feliz Boulevard. The culprit was nowhere to be found. However, a witness saw a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt with a copy of the LA Weekly sticking out of his back pocket leaving the scene.

Shortly thereafter, arson investigator John Little found the alleged arsonist strolling down the street. The suspect was carrying a ripped out section of the Weekly (June 20-26, 2008 edition) in his back pocket. Later, Little said he found a “time delayed device” wrapped in burnt pieces of Weekly newspaper in the trashcan. He also found a lighter in the suspect’s pocket.

“It was a real CSI type thing,” says Little. “We recovered newspaper out of the trash container and opened it up and saw a matchbook device. The section that was ripped out matched the papers in his back pocket… He would set the newspaper down there and go across the street and watch.”

Dale Joseph Dreyer, 64, was arrested and charged with one count of arson. His next court date is scheduled for October 7.

And to think I believed copies of the newspaper flew off the racks because our readers couldn’t get enough of our Calendar section. Guess again!

LA Weekly