Crime

County offering $5,000 reward for information on arson case

Centre County sheriff's department vehicle catches fire

Emergency crews respond to a vehicle fire outside the Centre County Sheriff's Office on the 200 block of East High Street in Bellefonte early in the morning on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.
Up Next
Emergency crews respond to a vehicle fire outside the Centre County Sheriff's Office on the 200 block of East High Street in Bellefonte early in the morning on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.

Centre County is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for the Nov. 27 fire in Bellefonte.

At about 1:45 a.m. that day, emergency officials responded to a fully involved vehicle fire outside the county sheriff’s office on the 200 block of East High Street. The van, which was purchased about a year ago and only had 1,200 miles on it, belonged to the sheriff’s department.

Video footage of the incident is “pretty concerning,” Sheriff Bryan Sampsel said Tuesday at the Centre County commissioners’ meeting, where they approved offering a reward.

According to a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, the video shows an individual who appears to be between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 1 inch tall with a thin build, wearing a hoodie. The suspect might have burns to the face, hands and arms.

It appears that the same person is seen there a few times prior to lighting the van, Sampsel said, and this took place over a 25-minute period.

“Arson (is) a bad crime,” he said.

No one was injured in this incident, but who knows what could happen next time, Sampsel said, adding that the fire was close to houses and Centre County property.

The loss of the van sets taxpayers back $40,000, he said.

The reward is an added incentive for those with information to come forward, said Michael Pipe, Centre County Board of Commissioners chairman.

“We just want to catch the person or people who are responsible,” Commissioner Mark Higgins said.

Bellefonte police are investigating the incident, and Sampsel is assisting as need. A state police fire marshal was also at the scene.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the sheriff’s office at 355-6803 or Bellefonte police at 353-2320.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

  Comments