Rash of vehicle arsons in Columbia

Police investigated a rash of vehicle arsons that took place early Tuesday morning in Columbia.

In total, four vehicles in the 200 block of South Metter Avenue, two vehicles in the 200 block of East Plum Street and vehicles on South Ferkel Street and East Washington Street were entered and something was ignited inside. 

All of the vehicles were unlocked.

Fortunately, none of the vehicles impacted became fully engulfed. Police believe that lack of oxygen inside the closed vehicles kept the fires smoldering.

The seats and floorboards of most of these vehicles were damaged, in addition to interior smoke damage.

At about 12:20 a.m. Tuesday, a resident of the mobile home park at 548 S. Main Street called police to report a subject entering his vehicle. The suspect, described as a White male in his teens and wearing a blue Under Armour sweatshirt, was last seen running east from that location on Schneider Street.

This subject was not located despite a police search that involved K-9 units.

The Columbia Fire Department responded to several of the vehicle arson incidents, and the state fire marshal was requested to investigate. An Illinois State Police crime scene unit is also assisting in this investigation.

On Friday, it was announced that 18-year-old James. T. Hines of Columbia was arrested and charged in connection with this case.

Michelle Haven posted this photo on Facebook of fire damage to the inside of a car on East Plum Street in Columbia overnight.
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