Man charged in string of vehicle fires

A 37-year-old man has been charged with eight counts of vehicle arson in a string of fires in San Jose late last month, a Santa Clara County prosecutor said Tuesday.

Jason Troy Gilliland is charged with setting fire to eight vehicles in the area of South Bascom Avenue, Leigh Avenue and Stokes Street in west San Jose between Dec. 22 and Dec. 30, Deputy District Attorney David Boyd said.

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The first fire was reported late at night on Dec. 22 at 1501 S. Bascom Ave. where a 2014 Nissan Frontier was set ablaze, followed by a second one in which a 1997 Toyota Corolla burned early on Dec. 23, according to Boyd.

Fires were started in another six vehicles in the area on or around Dec. 30, Boyd said.

The San Jose Fire Department took part in the investigation of the suspected arsons and found rocks near broken glass beside at least some of the burned vehicles, Boyd said. When Gilliland was detained prior to his arrest, authorities found BIC-brand lighters on him, according to Boyd.

Some of the owners of the charred vehicles did not have comprehensive auto insurance to pay for the damage and are left without transportation, which has impacted their daily lives, Boyd said.

Prosecutors also filed enhancement charges, that may add a one-year sentence each, against Gilliland for having previously served time in jail or prison for felony possession of combustible materials and vandalism, he said.