Chicago police warn of serial arsonist targeting Halloween decorations on North Side

Eight incidents have been reported over the past two weeks

NBC Universal, Inc.

Chicago police are warning residents in some North Side neighborhoods to be on alert for a suspected arsonist targeting Halloween decorations.

Police say eight incidents have been reported in Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village and North Center in the early morning hours between Oct. 4 and Oct. 16.

In one case, the suspect set fire to a hay bale on the front porch of a home on the 3600 block of North Hoyne Avenue, which quickly spread to engulf the front entrance.

Five children and four adults were inside when the fire started at around 3:30 a.m. Monday morning.

Though everyone was able to get out safely, but the duplex, which houses multiple families, is now unlivable while repairs are made.

"The fact that there’s been eight, [I'm] very surprised, and it makes me nervous, because I have Halloween decorations on my front porch as well," said one neighbor who didn't want to be identified.

Residents are now questioning if they should put up decorations at all.

"Do I have to put it away from my front porch? Which is something you don’t normally have to think about," said Lincoln Square resident, Marc Wasserman.

"It's pretty horrible. Part of the reason I like this neighborhood so much is that everyone enjoys the holiday."

A ring surveillance camera captured the suspect in the act in Roscoe Village. Video shows him set fire to a decoration on a front porch in the 2200 block of Roscoe Street.

Moments later, the homeowner can be seen extinguishing the blaze.

"It's quite shocking, it’s disturbing," Roscoe Village resident Chloe Delvalle told NBC Chicago.

"It seems like it’s ruining the fun of the Halloween décor."

Police are looking for a man around six feet tall between 35 and 40 years old, with a slender build, beard and mustache. Police say he was seen wearing glasses, a black jacket, blue jeans and carrying a messenger bag at the time.

They are encouraging neighbors to review and preserve surveillance video and to move outdoor decorations away from structures.

Below is a look at the times and dates of the reported incidents:

 4600 block of N. Lincoln on October 4, 2023 at 1:50 a.m.
 2100 block of W. Montrose October 4, 2023 at 3:48 a.m.
 4500 block of N. Lincoln on October 4, 2023 at 4 a.m.
 4600 block of N. Lincoln on October 7, 2023 at 4:13 a.m.
 4000 block of N. Lincoln on October 9, 2023 at 2:58 a.m.
 2100 block of W. Agatite on October 11, 2023 at 3:10 a.m.
 2200 block of W. Roscoe on October 11, 2023 at 3:43 a.m.
 3600 block of N. Hoyne on October 16, 2023 at 3:27 a.m.

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