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Vancouver police see 83% spike in arson in last 10 weeks

Vancouver Police are investigating a spike in arsons across the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Bayne Stanley

Vancouver police are investigating a spike in arson across the city, and they are asking residents to stay vigilant.

Const. Tania Visintin says there have have been 99 arsons from March 1 to May 11, an 83-per-cent increase from the same period last year.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police chief on rise of crime during coronavirus outbreak' Vancouver police chief on rise of crime during coronavirus outbreak
Vancouver police chief on rise of crime during coronavirus outbreak – Apr 30, 2020

Police say an April 6 bin fire led to $1 million in damage to a nearby building. Officers have identified a suspect in that fire and charges have been approved by Crown counsel.

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Police are also investigating a fire set to a 100-metre long hedge on April 22 and an April 25 blaze that was sparked at the back of a building near a natural gas meter.

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP release more details of suspected late-night arson, issue appeal for help

No one has been injured or displaced by the arsons, police say.

“An act like this is extremely dangerous and reckless,” Visintin said of the arsons. “Investigators are working hard to catch the person or people responsible.”

READ MORE: A year after Victoria’s Plaza Hotel fire, investigation into arson and missing caretaker stalled

Visintin said it is unclear whether the recent increase in arsons is connected to the COVID-19 crisis. Vancouver police have previously said they have seen a spike in property crimes targeting shuttered businesses during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Visintin is asking the public to take small steps to reduce opportunities for arson, such as leaving garbage out the morning of pickup and storing garbage bins away from the home.

Anyone with information is asked to call Vancouver police at 604-717-2541. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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