Local/State

Rival owner arrested in NJ bowling alley fire

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The owner of a New Jersey bowling alley is one of three people arrested for an intentionally set fire at a rival bowling alley.

Back on January 11, flames consumed the Loyle Lanes Bowling Center in Vineland, New Jersey. The fire was determined to be arson.

On Wednesday afternoon, police announced the arrest of Steven Smink, 47, the owner of rival Pike Lanes Bowling Center in Bridgeton, N.J. Also arrested were Felix Antonio Manzano, Jr., 21, and a 17-year-old. All three are from Philadelphia.

Authorities say they doused the roof of Loyle Lanes with an accellerent.

"All three individuals have been charged with arson for hire; that's a crime in the first degree carrying a penalty of 20 years in New Jersey State Prison," Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said.

They are also charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated arson.

The 17-year-old was released to his mother pending further court action.

The damage to the bowling center is estimated at $4 million.

Steven Smink has owned Pike Lanes on Landis Avenue since 2007.

Charles Loyle and his family owned Loyle Lanes bowling alley for 50 years.

While law enforcement would not reveal a motive, Charles Loyle believes it was about getting rid of the competition. He says Pike Lanes' business wasn't good, especially since losing its liquor license last June.

"We got comments that he would put us out of business in two years, well, it took him a little over two years, but to put us out of business, he had to burn us down," Charles Loyle said.

Local bowlers tell Action News, Pike Lanes had been losing business to Loyle.

"A lot of league bowlers left to go to Loyle lanes. They take care of the facility, they treat you better," said one bowler who did not want to be identified.

James Johnson, a league bowler who's played at both Loyle and Pike, is disturbed by the charges.

"What does it teach the kids? If your competition is better than you than you go burn them down?" Johnson said.

Steven Smink and Felix Manzano are held in Philadelphia on $300,000 bail each and extradition hearings are pending.

The Loyle family hopes to rebuild as soon as insurance claims are settled. Meanwhile, nearly two dozen people are out of a job.

Anyone with information can call the Vineland Police Department at 856-691-4111 x 4651 or 856-391-3608

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Tags:
new jersey, vineland, fire, arson, cumberland county, local/state
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