Indictment Returned in Woonsocket Arson Fire
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island
Defendant identified after postings on Rhode Island's Most Wanted website
PROVIDENCE – An individual who allegedly broke into a Woonsocket manufacturing plant and set fires in several locations, and whose identity became known after a surveillance photograph of him was posted to Rhode Island’s Most Wanted website, was indicted today by a federal grand jury on a charge of arson.
Woonsocket Police Department personnel responded to an alarm at Sports Systems Custom Bag Corporation in the early morning hours of April 5, 2019, and discovered smoke in the building and water flowing from sprinkler heads in the basement and first floor. A small fire inside a desktop computer lying on the floor in the basement and smoldering papers on a desk in a first floor office were quickly extinguished. The sprinkler system had contained or extinguished most of the fire prior to the fire department’s arrival.
Investigators also observed evidence of forced entry, smashed computers, ransacked offices, and an attempted forced entry into a safe.
Investigators also retrieved a smashed and badly damaged DVR used to record security camera images. According to court documents, recovered video surveillance shows a person using a ladder to access the building. The same person is seen walking around the building collecting various items and placing them into bags, which he obtained from within the facility.
At one point the person takes down an American flag hanging in the building, folds it in a military fashion, and then places it into his backpack.
According to court documents, the individual seen in the video initially touches several items in the building then puts on a pair of gloves and wipes down those places he previously touched. He also disabled and destroyed several surveillance cameras.
Images of the individual captured on video and retrieved from the security camera DVR were posted by law enforcement to Rhode Island’s Most Wanted website. Information from the public assisted law enforcement in identifying the person as allegedly being Jacob E. Lahousse, 20, who has no known address. Law enforcement located and arrested Lahousse on December 26, 2019. He was ordered detained in federal custody by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan.
Lahousse’s indictment, returned today, is announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Kelly D. Brady, Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas Oates, and Rhode Island State Fire Marshal Timothy McLaughlin.
An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dulce Donovan.
The matter was investigated by the Woonsocket Police Department, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and ATF.
Updated December 31, 2019
Press Release Number: 19-162