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Cruiser arson remains unsolved

Journal Opinion of Bradford, Vermont

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THETFORD — More than a year after a mysterious fire destroyed three Thetford police cruisers, the case remains open and under investigation.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2014, Thetford Fire Department was called to what was reported as a car fire at the Thetford Town Offices in Thetford Center. Press releases report that upon arriving at approximately 2:30 a.m., the Thetford Fire Department observed the three municipal cruisers to be fully in flames, but the department was able to prevent the fire from spreading to the nearby town offices.

The damage to the three cruisers was estimated at $100,000. The fire was ruled suspicious but in the months that have followed, there are still few answers as to who caused the fire and why.

"I don't have an update for you right now," said Det. Sgt. Steven Otis of the Vermont State Police. "All I can tell you is that it is still under investigation. There are still leads we are still following up on, to this date. I can't really give you anything... because obviously we don't want it to affect the investigation, but it is still actively being investigated."

After further investigation and the identification and interviews with witnesses, Vermont State Police had determined that the fire that damaged the three police cruisers of the Town of Thetford, had been determined to be incendiary/arson.

Thetford Police Chief Michael Evans said that he, too, did not have much information to share on the investigation.

"They still have the case open,"

Evans said. "I don't know that it's necessarily moving very quickly at this point, but it's getting old too. But I have nothing new to offer on that."

Evans was not with the police department at the time of the fire. He was hired earlier this year to fill the position after a lengthy search for a candidate.

The town of Thetford bought two new police cruisers as a result of the fire. Insurance covered the cost of equipment and installations and the values of the lost cars were based on the ages of the cars.

"We bought two cars with what they gave us for three, but we still had to finance $20,000 at the end in order to make ourselves whole," Evans said. "We bought Ford sedans, which were what the two newer cars that burned. It's pretty much a direct replacement of those."

Procedures have changed in that the two employed officers on the department now take police vehicles home as a result of the fire.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the Arson Tip Line at 1-800-32-ARSON. There is now up to $7,000 reward available for information leading to an arrest. You may also call Det. Sgt. Steven Otis of the Vermont State Police at the Rockingham Barracks at (802)875-2112.


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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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