Paul Schonhardt, 28, of Los Altos, CA, and Angela Rutledge, 28, of San Jose, CA, were taken into custody on January 24, 2014, 11 days after the early-morning blaze at Pedro’s Auto Clinic on Terra Bella Avenue, said sargent Saul Jaeger of the Mountain View Police Department.
Insurance fraud was the motive, Jaeger said. Schonhardt’s car was at the body shop for repairs, but instead of turning over a check from his insurance company to the body shop, he allegedly kept it and set fire to his car. A gas can was found under his car, Jaeger said.
The blaze spread to five cars, destroying three and causing minor to moderate damage to the others, Jaeger said.
None of the vehicles was occupied and no injuries were reported. Schonhardt was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail for arson and Rutledge for being an accessory, Jaeger said. In addition, the couple is facing drug possession charges.
Jaeger said the economy has led some people to fall back on insurance fraud to get out of debts.