Firebug targets Chch businesses

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 13:56 18/06/2013

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A firebug with a penchant for torching wheelie bins could be responsible for at least three arsons at Christchurch businesses in the past fortnight.

The latest fitting the modus operandi were in Addington early on Saturday.

The first was at Elite Auto Groom in Hazeldean Rd at 3.50am. Wheelie bins were pushed against the building before being set alight.

Business owner Clive Wentworth said the fire caused ''a hell of a mess'', including charring to the front of the shop and a melted plastic downpipe.

''Luckily our building was brick,'' he said.

In nearly four years of operating, staff had always left the wheelie bins outside, Wentworth said, and there had ''never been a problem''.

At 4.20am, firefighters were called to the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Lincoln Rd. That blaze destroyed 13 wheelie bins, shattered a window and caused smoke damage to the cafe toilets.

The the cafe was still able to open on Sunday, but the toilets remained out of service.

Part-owner Mike Long said the most damage to the cafe was by firefighters breaking the door down to fight the fire, but he had ''no complaints''.

He put it down to ''kids playing''.

Police believe the two incidents were linked, and are not ruling out the possiblity the same offender was responsible for a similar arson in Antigua St two weeks ago.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said it was fortunate in each incident that property damage was relatively minor and no-one was injured.

"There's always the danger that arsons like these can cause more serious damage or even loss of life,'' he said.

''We're trying to identify who is responsible for these fires and whether there is a connection - and there could be.''

Archer said rubbish skips, loose rubbish and wheelie bins made easy targets for arsonists.

He urged business owners to reduce the risk to their premises by making sure rubbish and recycling was securely stored, and wheelie bins or other moveable items were locked away.

Police are reviewing closed-circuit television footage and have urged the public to come forward with information.

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- The Press

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