An investigation has been launched following four house fires that have occurred in the last month, two of which involved thieves stealing a number of items from the homes.
The first incident happened when thieves stole a large-screen television from a house on Manor Road in Benfleet shortly before 7am on Saturday, 17 August. They then set fire to the property. It was empty at the time. Officers believed the fire burned for several hours prior to its discovery.
The second fire was started shortly before 4am on Wednesday, 21 August, when criminals set fire to a house on Eaton Road in Leigh, completely burning out the property. Nobody was inside at the time.
Another fire happened at a house in London Road, Benfleet, sometime between midnight on Monday, 12 August and 8pm on Saturday, 24 August. The hallway was smoke and fire damaged and electrical items including a TV, a games console and Sky box, plus some jewellery, was removed.
A fourth incident took place on Saturday, 21 September, at a property in Darlinghurst Grove in Leigh. It is believed the fire started at around 5am today but police officers were called to the scene to secure the premises at just after 6am. The house was unoccupied at the time of the fire.
DS Ian Howitt of Southend CID said: “At this stage there isn’t anything to suggest the incidents are connected but these fires are concerning us. They are taking place when the owners of the properties are away from their homes and any evidence is being destroyed by the fires. The fire today has caused extensive damage.
“If anyone has any information about these incidents please do get in touch.
“We want to stop this from happening as it is having a devastating effect on people’s homes.”
Anybody with any information is asked to call Southend CID on Essex Police 101 or Crimestoppers anon-ymously on 0800 555 111.