Lawrence Police and fire investigators Wednesday were trying to determine who set fire to James Gang Automotive, 304 Locust St., and took two cars from its lot.
The fire, confined to the inside office area of the building, caused an estimated $1,000 damage, said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Chief Jim McSwain. He called the fire an arson.
A woman passing by the business sometime between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. saw the front door open and a small fire inside, Police Sgt. Mike Pattrick said. The passerby called police. Firefighters responded and extinguished the blaze.
"There were several places where it appeared fires were set," McSwain said.
Material from the fire damage was sent to a laboratory to be examined. McSwain said he didn't know what might have been used to start the fire.
Two vehicles in the lot at the business were taken, Pattrick said. They were a black, 1996 Toyota Camry four-door and a green 1995 four-door Lincoln Town Car.
Also missing from the business was a VCR, video monitor and assorted checkbooks, Pattrick said.
"We can't confirm that the fire and the thefts are related, but they might be," Pattrick said.