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San Francisco police make arrest in Tesla fires, not Waymo arson

A parked vehicle's rear bumper is blackened by a vehicle fire a day earlier
Scorch marks are visible on the pavement and a red Hyundai after a Tesla caught fire on Feb. 24 in SoMa. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

The San Francisco police department has arrested a man in connection with the burning of two Teslas, but he is not a suspect in the torching of a Waymo robotaxi in Chinatown last month as the department initially said.

The Standard asked the department Monday morning whether an arrest had been made in the Feb. 10 Waymo incident in Chinatown. A public information officer responded with information about the arrest of a man on Feb. 27 near Union Square. 

After the story was published, the department said it had confused the two vehicle arson cases, and that no arrest has been made in the Waymo case.

"I responded to your email regarding a different incident with the incorrect statement. We are not confirming an arrest for the Waymo vandalism/fire that occurred on Lunar New Year in Chinatown," said Officer Robert Rueca.

Several Teslas were set alight in the South of Market neighborhood on Feb. 24, two weeks after the Waymo arson. 

The department did not share the suspect’s name because it said the case is open and remains under investigation.

Nor did the department comment on which other vehicle fires the suspect may have been suspected of starting. 

The suspect was also found to have had methamphetamine on him. 

Waymo investigation remains open

On Feb. 10, a crowd in San Francisco's Chinatown surrounded the Waymo robotaxi, broke its windows and threw fireworks inside, which then set the vehicle ablaze.

The 9 p.m. incident at Jackson Street near Grant Avenue happened when the vehicle was empty. No one was injured. 

It remains unclear why the crowd set upon the robotaxi. 

Regardless of the motivation, videos of the incident quickly spread to social media. Those videos showed a crowd of several dozen people surrounding the car and scrawling graffiti on the sides. One man bashed the front passenger window and the windshield with a skateboard, shattering the glass.

Since then, city leaders, who have for months been attempting to turn around some negative media depictions of San Francisco as lawless, have vowed to find the culprits.

Editor's note: This story has been revised to include updated information from the San Francisco Police Department about the arrest of a vehicle arson suspect clarifying that the man has not been linked to the Waymo burning.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at

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