Serial arsonist is setting fire to Halloween displays on North Side, home badly burned overnight

A man who resembles the arsonist is seen decapitating inflatable Halloween figures over the weekend (left). At right, fire damage is seen after a hay bale was set ablaze on a porch in the 3600 block of North Hoyne. | Ring; CWBChicago

Chicago police are hunting for a serial arsonist who is setting fire to Halloween decorations on the North Side. Investigators are stepping up their efforts after one of the man’s fires spread to a nearby home early Monday, forcing several residents to find shelter elsewhere.

Several surveillance cameras have recorded the man. So far, though, Chicago police have not warned the public about him.

His usual technique is to set fire to hay bales, barrels of hay, and scarecrows that people and businesses put out as decorations, according to reports provided to CWBChicago.

On October 7, several small fires broke out along Lincoln Avenue in the heart of Lincoln Square. Only minor damage was reported. Another small fire was set in the 4000 block of North Lincoln early on October 9.

Last Wednesday, a haybale was set ablaze next to a porch in the 2100 block of West Agatite around 3:11 a.m. The owner put it out and didn’t file a police report.

About 20 minutes later, the arsonist set a hay barrel on fire on a porch in the 2200 block of West Roscoe. Again, the owners extinguished the fire before any serious damage occurred.

But some residents of North Center were not so lucky Monday morning.

At about 3:43 a.m., an arsonist set fire to hay bales sitting on a porch in the 3600 block of North Hoyne. The flames spread to the wooden porch and then to the structure itself, also wooden.

Everyone got out safely, but the damage was extensive.

The arson suspect is seen in a screengrab from a second incident. | Ring

The front door and a front window were boarded on Monday afternoon. The porch and front siding were heavily charred. A stack of hay was spread across the front lawn.

Over the weekend, a man who resembles the arsonist was caught on camera as he used scissors to decapitate Halloween inflatables in the neighborhood. That footage was posted to the Ring network. Watch:

People who have seen other videos say the man has a limp.

For now, residents who live in North Center, Roscoe Village, and Lincoln Square may want to reassess their outdoor Halloween decorations, particularly if they involve hay bales, scarecrows, or other large, flammable items.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is