Metro-East News

Alton officials offer up reward for information about arsons

Seven suspected arsons in just three months is enough, Alton city officials have decided.

They are now offering a $1000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction in the crimes.

"Almost every community has a couple of arsons a year," said Alton Fire Chief Bernie Sebold. "But the increased frequency of these, in such a short time frame, has caused us to offer up this reward.

The buildings were all vacant and did not have utilities. Even so, two fires of those caused damaged to nearby occupied homes, Sebold said.

"We're not finding evidence of someone making a makeshift home in there," Sebold noted.

The money will come from the Foreign Fire Tax funds, which every department in Illinois gets, Sebold said. There is a 2 percent surcharge on property insurance policies for companies whose headquarters are not in Illinois. In the past, Alton has used the money for thermal imaging cameras and firefighter gear.

"The benefit of stopping the arson fires outweighs the cost of $1000," Sebold said.

Anyone with information about the arsons can call the State Fire Marshal Arson Hotline at 800-252-2947 or the Alton Police Department on its Tip Line at 618-465-5948.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535, @MaryCooleyBND