Police appeal for assistance to locate man after 16 arson incidents

Detectives from Melbourne and Port Phillip Crime Investigation Unit have ramped up their search to locate a man believed to be connected to 16 fires over the past two months.

Police issued a warrant for 29-year-old James McArdle’s arrest yesterday, following a series of arson incidents.

Investigators have today released CCTV footage in the hope someone recognises him and can provide information on his whereabouts.

McArdle is described as 180cm tall, medium build, brown hair and has an Irish accent.

He has a number of tattoos, including one on his left arm saying, “Only the strong survive”.

He is known to frequent Melbourne CBD and St Kilda.

Investigations are continuing into the 16 linked incidents which include:

• Sunday, 27 November – Multiple aerosol cans were set alight in the back of a vehicle parked on Carlisle Street in Balaclava about 5.45am.

• Sunday, 27 November – An offender smashed the window of a business on Inkerman Street in St Kilda East, then threw an ignited item inside causing damage to the premises about 6am.

• Thursday, 1 December – Accelerant was poured onto a parked motorcycle on Hotham Street in Balaclava and set alight about 2.30am.

• Saturday, 3 December – An offender smashed the glass at the front of a business on Rosslyn Street in West Melbourne and threw an item which had been lit on fire into the foyer about 12.40am.

• Tuesday, 6 December – Accelerant was poured over a vehicle and set on fire on Rosslyn Street in West Melbourne about 3.40am.

• Wednesday, 7 December – Aerosol cans were set alight outside a building on Inkerman Street in St Kilda about 4.45am.

• Wednesday, 7 December – A man poured accelerant onto a footpath next to a parked vehicle on Hotham Street in Balaclava, then set it alight about 4.50am.

• Wednesday, 7 December – Accelerant was poured outside a business on Inkerman Street in St Kilda East and set alight at some point between 6pm on 7 December and 8am on 8 December.

• Thursday, 8 December – Aerosol cans were placed in an apartment building on Hotham Street in Balaclava and set alight about 10.10pm.

• Saturday, 10 December – A man entered an apartment building on Batman Street in West Melbourne and lit three fires in the car park causing around $15,000 if damage about 11pm.

• Tuesday, 13 December – A suitcase containing bottles of spirits and aerosol cans was placed at the front door of a property on Havelock Street in St Kilda and set alight about 12.10am, causing significant damage.

• Friday, 16 December – An offender poured spirits over two vehicles in a car park on Rosslyn Street in West Melbourne about 4.40am.

• Thursday, 22 December – It is understood a man strapped batteries to the rear of a vehicle in a car park on Little Lonsdale Street in Melbourne, then poured spirits over it before setting it on fire about 5.10pm.

• Thursday, 22 December – A suitcase containing flammable aerosol cans and batteries was placed against a front door of an apartment on Hotham Street in St Kilda East and set alight about 1pm.

• Thursday, 22 December – It is understood a male offender stole multiple bottles of spirits from a shop on Wattle Street in Prahran, then set a vehicle on fire in the car park about 2pm. Police were told he also threatened a member of the public who attempted to intervene.

• Thursday, 22 December – A man poured spirits onto a bag of aerosol cans at the entrance to a business on Mercantile Place in Melbourne about 6.30pm.

Detectives are concerned and are seeking assistance from the public to locate McArdle due to the continued and escalating circumstances of the incidents.

Anyone with information on the incidents or on McArdle’s whereabouts is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.auExternal Link

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