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Police Probe 5 Attacks Where Women’s Clothes Were Set On Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD on Thursday was investigating the motives behind multiple attacks involving women’s clothing being burned.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the investigation started out as an investigation into one crime of a woman’s Muslim garb being set ablaze last Saturday. But it has now become much broader.

“There are, between 8 o’clock at night and 10 o’clock at night, there was five incidents with five different women,” Boyce said. “We’re investigating each one.”

Around 8:45 p.m. Saturday, police said a woman was walking on Fifth Avenue near 57th Street when someone tried to light her leg on fire. The victim was described by police as white and in modern clothes.

About 15 minutes later, police said a 35-year-old woman from Scotland, who was wearing traditional Muslim attire, was window shopping on Fifth Avenue outside the Valentino store when she felt something warm on her left arm and saw her sleeve was on fire.

She patted out the flames and noticed a man standing next to her with a lighter in his hand, police said. The suspect is seen in surveillance video casually walking away from the crime scene down 54th Street in a group with other young people, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.

Just a few minutes later, police said two women were heading down to the Bryant Park subway station when a man was holding a lit lighter close to her arm.

There were also two additional incidents.

Around 8 p.m. Saturday in front of 127 W. 42nd St., a teenage girl was walking with her mother when a man in a group tried to set her T-shirt on fire, police said. The woman’s mother chased them off.

At 8:59 p.m. the same day at 54th Street and Fifth Avenue, a woman’s skirt was set on fire by a group that passed her, police said.

Police earlier identified one suspect, and late Thursday night released photos and videos of a second suspect who appears wearing a white shirt and headphones in surveillance images. Police were also trying to identify a third man and three women who appear in the photos and video.

Women Set On Fire New Suspect

Police say the man in the white shirt and headphones was involved in several incidents where women’s clothes were set on fire in Midtown, and are also trying to identify the others in the photo. (Credit: NYPD)

Boyce said the woman wearing the hijab was burned on the left arm by what looks like a Bic lighter.

“But all of the other four ladies had nothing to do with any religious incident at all,” he said.

Boyce said the fire bugs appear to be two approximately 16-year-old boys in tanktops. He said the NYPD is labeling the crimes as anti-gender.

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