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Vancouver police seek man caught on video setting fire to homeless woman’s blankets

Click to play video 'Security camera footage captures suspect setting fire to blanket of sleeping homeless woman' Security camera footage captures suspect setting fire to blanket of sleeping homeless woman
WARNING: Contains disturbing content. Video provided by the VPD shows a man setting fire to a homeless woman's blanket as she slept on a sidewalk in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Dec. 3, 2020. Police are seeking help identifying both the victim and the suspect. – Jan 12, 2021

Vancouver police are seeking help locating both a homeless woman and a suspect who allegedly set her blankets and belongings on fire while she slept.

On Tuesday, police released security video of the incident, which happened just outside the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Hamilton Street around 4 a.m. on Dec. 13.

The video shows the woman setting up a place to sleep on the street near a set of benches. It then cuts to a man walking over to where she is sleeping.

The video cuts again to the man appearing to light the woman’s blanket on fire before walking away.

Read more: Man found dead near Vancouver’s Strathcona Park homeless camp

The woman managed to escape the small blaze, and can be seen on the video struggling to extinguish it.

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Police said the fire smouldered for several minutes, spreading through the woman’s belongings and burning her jacket and blankets.

“This was a shocking attack that targeted a vulnerable member of our community, and we hope the public can help solve this crime,” spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said in a statement.

“Fortunately, the victim woke up just in time to put the fire out and escape serious physical injury. A few more seconds and this could have been tragic.”

The woman did not report the crime and has yet to be located, police said. Investigators hoped to speak to her and appealed to the public to help find her.

The homeless victim of an alleged arson attack in Vancouver on Dec. 13, 2020, seen in a police handout. Vancouver Police

The woman was described as being in her 30s, with dark, shoulder-length hair and wearing a grey full-length button-up jacket at the time of the incident.

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The suspect was seen on video wearing a black and white Oakland Raiders jacket. Police said he appears to be between 35 and 50 years old, and between five-feet-five and five-feet-10-inches tall.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Vancouver police or Crime Stoppers.

The suspect in an alleged arson attack on a homeless woman in Vancouver on Dec. 13, 2020, is seen in this police handout.
The suspect in an alleged arson attack on a homeless woman in Vancouver on Dec. 13, 2020, is seen in this police handout. Vancouver Police
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Click to play video 'Vancouver police release video of arson suspect' Vancouver police release video of arson suspect
Vancouver police release video of arson suspect – Sep 6, 2018