VPD seek suspect who set fire to homeless woman's blankets while she slept

Jan 12 2021, 11:55 am

Vancouver Police are appealing to the public for tips as they investigate a disturbing incident in which a man set a homeless woman’s blankets on fire while she was sleeping on a sidewalk.

On Tuesday, police said the incident took place around 4 am on December 13, on Hamilton Street, near the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

A man approached the sleeping woman, “paced around, then set her belongings on fire before walking away,” police said.

The fire “smouldered for several minutes,” then spread throughout the victim’s belongings before burning her jacket and the blankets that were keeping her warm, they added.

Now, as part of their investigation, police have publicly released video footage of the incident.

Warning: Parts of this video are graphic and may be disturbing to some.

Addison said the victim did not report the incident to police and has not yet been located. She’s described as white, “appears to be in her 30s,” and has dark, shoulder-length hair. She was wearing a grey, full-length, button-up jacket at the time of the incident.

The suspect also appears white, between 35 and 50 years old, and between 5-feet-5 and 5-feet-10 inches tall. He wore a unique black and white Oakland Raiders jacket at the time of the crime.

“This was a shocking attack that targeted a vulnerable member of our community, and we hope the public can help solve this crime,” said VPD Sgt.Steve Addison in a release. “Fortunately, the victim woke up just in time to put the fire out and escape serious physical injury.”

A few more seconds, he said, “and this could have been tragic.”

Police said investigators would like to speak to the victim and are asking anyone else with information about this crime to call VPD’s Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-669-8477.

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