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Authorities: San Jose Home Depot Arson Suspect Shoplifted Minutes Earlier, Was On Probation

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Additional details have emerged about a man accused of setting a massive inferno that burned a Home Depot store in South San Jose to the ground.

The fire happened on April 9 around 5:30pm. Police said 27-year-old Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue set the fire as a diversion to try to walk out of the store with a cart full of merchandise.

Less than an hour before, police said he stole a tent and other items from the Bass Pro Shop on Cherry Avenue in San Jose. Police have released a surveillance photo of a man they say is Gogue taken about a half hour before he went to the Home Depot.

SJ Home Depot fire suspect
Surveillance photo of man who police say is Dyllin Jaycruz Gogue, who is suspected in a massive fire that burned down a Home Depot store in South San Jose. (CBS)

Gogue was described by police as a prolific thief accused of shoplifting from a number of stores in the last six months including Office Max, Macy's, Sunglass Hut, Guitar Center, and Kohl's.

According to court records, Gogue pleaded guilty to shoplifting from REI in Sunnyvale on March 9 and was sentenced to probation for a year.

Three weeks later, on March 30 he was arrested again - also accused of stealing. The next day, April 1, Gogue was released on $0 bail.

Just eight days after his release, on April 9, he's accused of setting the fire at Home Depot.

"The history shows you, court is not making an impression, arrests are not making an impression. This person is out of control," said Tony Brass, a legal analyst and a former prosecutor in San Francisco.

Brass says he can't understand why the judge in the April 1st case released Gogue with no bail, especially when he was already on probation for stealing.

"You have open cases in court and you continue to offend. That shows an out of control quality that makes the person dangerous and unpredictable," Brass told KPIX 5.

Last year, California's Supreme Court changed the way bail is handled in the state. Now most people who commit non-violent crimes, like shoplifting, are released without having to post bail.

Advocates said reforms were needed because the old system disproportionately impacted minority communities, where often Black and Brown people were held in jail for months or even years awaiting trial for minor, non-violent offenses, simply because they couldn't afford to pay to get out.

"Really it should be an analysis of behavior, and not an analysis of the charge," said Brass.

The suspect, Gogue, is now being held without bail after his arrest on Monday. He's scheduled to be back in court on June 1st.

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