Police appeal to catch Exeter arsonist
Police have released footage of a man they wish to identify following a number of deliberate fires in Exeter.
Police are investigating 14 incidents that they currently believe are linked, which have taken place in and around Exeter since August.
Sector Inspector Simon Arliss, said: “We are investigating a number of offences which all appear to be linked, and we are asking for the public to help us identify the individual responsible.
“It is only by pure chance that no-one has yet been injured by this person’s reckless actions, and we are asking for local residents to be vigilant and for any CCTV footage that can help us with our investigation, to be share with us.”
Many of the linked incidents have involved hedges and foliage which are adjoining properties, where fires have been started by the suspect dousing the area in petrol before setting it alight. These have all taken place in neighbourhoods in the early hours of the morning.
The first fire reported to police was on Collins Road in the Stoke Hill area of Exeter in the early hours of August 9th. Since then we have had reports of fires or attempts to start fires near Stoke Hill Primary School; King Arthurs Road; Mayflower Avenue; Summerway; Whipton Lane; Pinhoe Road; Sylvan Road; Clevedon Close; Headland Crescent; and Brookway, Whipton.
Insp Arliss, added: “Some of these locations have been targeted more than once, and some locations have been where the home owner has later discovered that their hedge was soaked in lighter fluid or fuel, but the suspect must have been spooked before being able to fully set the fire.
“Some of our victims were elderly and unable to use their stairs – these fires could easily result in loss of life.
“We have released footage related to the incident on Mayflower Avenue from around 1.50am on Tuesday 15 August. It appears to show a lone man wearing a distinctive top, which has a large dark strip across the front, setting fire to a hedge adjoining a property before leaving the area.
“As the images show, it only takes a few minutes before this is a serious fire that could be a risk to life, and is tackled by the fire service.”
Locations and dates:
09/08/17 Collins Road - Hedge set alight
11/08/17 Stoke Hill: Opposite Primary School - Deep seated hedge fire
12/08/17 King Arthurs Road - substantial fire targeting foliage and shed in back garden
15/08/17 Mayflower Avenue – Tree fire
16/08/17 Summerway – Hedge fire
17/08/17 Mayflower Avenue – Hedge fire
24/08/18 Whipton Lane – attempt on a car
07/09/17 Pinhoe Road – fire in Alleyway/Garage behind property
14/09/17 Widgery Road – Hedge fire
12/10/17 Sylvan Road – Shed fire
23/10/17 Clevedon Close – Hedge fire
09/11/17 Headland Crescent – Hedge fire
13/11/17 Headland Crescent - Fuel Soaked Hedge
27/11/17 Brookway, Whipton – attempt on a camper van
Nigel Deasy Exeter Fire Station Manager, said: “The impact that these deliberate fires are having on our community cannot be underestimated, Fire crews and Police are continuing their proactive campaign to reassure the public in the areas affected and Fire crews from Danes Castle & Middlemoor Fire Stations alongside our Police colleagues, have increased our presence in the areas of interest.
“We are appealing to the public to contact crime stoppers if they have any information on the recent spate of deliberate fires in these areas, by calling 0800 555 111.
“We urge the public to call 999 if they believe that a deliberate fire has been set, our fire crews will attend immediately to investigate, an early call will prevent these fires escalating and allow our Fire Investigation teams to gather evidence.”
Anyone with any information that can help police with this investigation is asked to contact email@example.com quoting crime reference CR/068634/17.
You can also give information anonymously via CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.
Members of the public can arrange a free fire safety in the home visit from DSFRS by calling our fire safety helpline on 0800 0502 999.