crime and punishment

Middle-Aged Woman Lights Fifteen Trash Cans on Fire

Run for the hills! It’s 1977 in New York City all over again.

A woman in her fifties set at least fifteen trash cans on fire in midtown Manhattan this afternoon. The first fire was reported outside the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, then a series of trash-can infernos were reported from Fifth to Lexington Avenues between 41st and 45th Streets, and two others in the Grand Central subway station. The Fire Department does not know what the woman used to light all those trash cans aflame, but FDNY chief Mark Rosenbaum noted this afternoon: “whatever she’s using, she’s got to be running out of it.”

The Times interviewed Dave Sinclair, an airport bus service employee, who says he saw the mystery arsonist:

She’s like this short,” he said, holding his hand about five feet off the ground. “She had a little shopping cart, black jacket, brown pants and brown hat. She was walking up this way. All of a sudden, all the cans were on fire.”

In other bizarre local crime news, the NYPD is on the lookout for a burglar who smears Vaseline on peepholes to ensure that neighbors can’t see him breaking into apartments. He carries a crowbar along with the petroleum jelly and is responsible for at least fourteen burglaries in Inwood and Washington Heights over the last six months.

Middle-Aged Woman Lights Fifteen Trash Cans on Fire