Man arrested for setting fires to vehicles in Spencer

Published 5:47 pm Sunday, January 10, 2021

SPENCER — A man accused of setting several cars on fire at a Spencer business last week was apprehended on Saturday afternoon.

Brandon Payne, 33, of Spencer, was arrested by Spencer police around 1:15 p.m. Saturday on Salisbury Avenue. 

Payne was wanted for his involvement in the arson of several cars that were burned at Carolina Custom Fabrication, a business at 1030 South Salisbury Ave. that had not yet opened to the public. The arson occurred around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Payne was charged with four counts of felony burning personal property for lighting four cars on fire and is currently booked in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $30,000 secured bond. Payne was charged with burning a 1993 Buick Roadmaster, a 1994 Buick Roadmaster, a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado and a 2007 Cadillac Escalade.

Two of the cars were completely burnt, Spencer Police detective Mike File said, and the other two were damaged. A brake rotor was also tossed through the windshield of the Cadillac.

After identifying Payne as the suspect in the fires using a combination of citizen tips and surveillance camera footage, the Spencer Police Department relied on tips submitted through Crime Stoppers to apprehend him.

“There were tips involved and there was a tip that was called in that he was seen in the area of the museum on the day we arrested him,” File said. “That’s how we actually encountered the guy on Salisbury Avenue.”

The vehicle fires allegedly lit by Payne at Carolina Custom Fabrication occurred within 45 minutes of a fire in downtown Salisbury that investigators declared arson, but File said at the time that he could not link the two together. 

Another fire occurred at the North Carolina Transportation museum on Saturday, near the area where Payne was reported to have been seen that day. File said that he could not release any information about the ongoing investigation into the fires at the N.C. Transportation Museum.

Payne is facing additional charges after being arrested on Sunday afternoon for breaking a sprinkler head in his cell at the Rowan County Detention Center. Interfering with a jail or prison fire system is a felony. Payne remains in the Rowan County Detention Center.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at

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