Video shows suspects setting two Richmond Hill businesses on fire in brazen early-morning arsons

Video released Wednesday by York Regional Police (YRP) appears to show two suspects breaking in to two separate businesses in the same Richmond Hill plaza over the long weekend and setting them on fire.

Police say that at around 3:45 a.m. on Sunday, officers were called to the plaza, near Highway 7 East and Leslie Street, following reports of smoke coming from a building in the area.

“When officers arrived, Richmond Hill Fire and Emergency Services were already on scene extinguishing a fire inside one of the businesses,” YRP said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Video surveillance in the area shows two suspects walking through the parking lot carrying containers.”

The surveillance footage shows what appears to be two male suspects breaking into a dining establishment and spreading flammable liquid across the floors and walls of the business.

The video then shows the suspects exiting the business and setting it on fire from the outside. In doing so, one of the suspects appeared to light their hand on fire accidently, but managed to extinguish the flames as they fled the area.

“The suspects were last seen running north through the parking lot to Wertheim Court,” the release continued. “One of the suspects may have sustained burns to his hand.” 

Arson

Police say that just before 5 a.m. on the following day, a fire was set at a different business in the same plaza.

“When police arrived on scene fire crews had already extinguished the fire,” the release read.

“There was significant damage to the business and surrounding units. The investigation revealed that two male suspects were in the area around 5 a.m. and were seen running through the parking lot carrying jugs of liquid.”

Surveillance video again showed two suspects entering a business with three jugs of flammable liquid. The suspects can be seen entering the business through one door and exiting from another a short while later as black smoke billowed out from inside.

The suspects were again seen fleeing the plaza towards Wertheim Court, police say.

Although their investigation is in its early stages, police believe both incidents are connected, but it remains unclear why those two businesses – a restaurant and a bakery, according to police – were targeted.

“The suspects appear to look similar in stature. They are both of course wearing dark clothing and you can’t see their faces, however the modus operandi appears to be the same,” YRP Const. Lisa Moskaluk told CP24 on Wednesday.

“They break in through a window, dump gasoline and then make their escape. In both instances, they’ve gone through the plaza to Wertheim Court which is just north of the plaza.”

Police also said that the suspects may have fled the area in a white four-door vehicle following the first incident. Investigators are asking anyone with home or business surveillance footage from the area to contact police.

“We are asking anyone with any video or anyone that noticed anything suspicious in the area at the time to please contact us,” Moskaluk said.

“[The suspects] were carrying what appears to be antifreeze containers that are pretty identifiable. Those would stand out if you go to fill those up at a gas station, so if anyone can just review surveillance cameras from their homes or businesses around those times that would be very helpful to investigators.” 


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