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Man arrested over arson and vandalism attacks in village

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Karina Bootle's damaged car
Karina Bootle's damaged car

POLICE have made an arrest after a suspected one-man crimewave terrorised a community with a series of attacks in which property was vandalised and set alight.

Officers detained a 20-year-old man in their hunt for the perpetrator who was seen in the village of Burton on Saturday night wearing a hooded top and riding a bicycle. They have urged any witnesses to come forward.

“Someone could very nearly have been killed,” said resident Karina Bootle after one of several incidents that evening, including a rock thrown through an elderly neighbour’s window and a fire deliberately started in her home.

Ms Bootle (51), a fitness instructor who is more than seven months’ pregnant, saw a suspect smashing windows on her Audi Q5 parked outside her Martins Hill Lane home around 7.30pm.

A brick was later hurled through the window of a home opposite, and a Volkswagen Polo parked nearby had a flaming rag placed in a grill.

“My neighbour had been sitting in her lounge watching TV when a brick came through the window and just missed her,” Ms Bootle continued.

“But the worst one was up the road where the bungalow had a rock thrown through the window of the lady’s front room and it was set on fire.

“She’s an elderly, frail lady who uses a Zimmer frame to get around, and she was in bed when it happened. She realised smoke was coming through the bedroom door and got herself out.”

Called out around 8.25pm, firefighters contained the flames at the property in Summers Lane within an hour.

The rear window was also smashed
The rear window was also smashed

A neighbour who had rushed to Ms Bootle’s aid spotted what looked like a young male in a grey hoodie riding a bike. He gave chase on foot but soon lost him.

Last Tuesday a pensioner’s mobility scooter was also set alight in Avon View Road around 12.30am, with flames spreading to a block of flats. The scooter was completely destroyed, but there was no damage inside the building.

DC Luke Davis, of Bournemouth CID, confirmed the arrest on Wednesday night: “Following a detailed investigation, a 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, arson and arson with intent to endanger life.

“We have recorded further reported crimes outside of this date period in this area and we are particularly interested to hear from anyone in Burton who either has home CCTV cameras and may have captured something of relevance or seen a young male on a pedal bike acting suspiciously in the area.

“Again I would appeal to anyone who has any information that may assist our investigation to please contact Dorset Police, or Crimestoppers anonymously.”

The detention relates to four incidents on Saturday including damage to a vehicle in Martins Hill Lane at about 7.35pm, a missile thrown through a property window in the same street at 8.10pm, where another vehicle was set alight soon after, and a small blaze at a home in Summers Lane at about 9.15pm.

A number of other reported offences are being investigated between Monday 15th March and Tuesday 23rd March.

Cllr David Flagg, the village’s member on BCP Council, told the A&T: “I’ve lived here for 40 years, and we’ve suffered minor incidents over the years, but personally I think this one’s over-stepping the mark.

“Setting light to other people’s properties is simply not acceptable.”

Anyone with information about Saturday’s incidents should contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 55210044694 for Saturday’s incidents.

Crimestoppers can also be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.

One villager has set up an online JustGiving page at bit.ly/3tLGGJ1 for the victims. Yesterday (Thursday) 18 supporters had contributed £240 towards a £500 target.

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