Sheriff offers $5k reward to catch person burning Andover playgrounds

Arson has caused over $50k in damages at parks in Andover. There's a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
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Someone is setting fires at playgrounds in Andover.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, the Anoka County Sheriff's Office said they are looking for the person(s) responsible for arson in several public parks around Andover.

The sheriff's office said the fires have caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage, and now there's a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The most destruction happened last week at Shadowbrook Park off Bunker Lake Blvd. on the border of Andover and Ham Lake, where the fire department said arson caused over $50,000 in damages.

There have been six fires total, Commander Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office told GoMN.

Andover Fire Chief Jerry Streich told Kare 11 that the arson started about two months ago with fires in trash bins, then dumpsters and portable toilets.

Besides Shadowbrook Park, fires were set at Purple Park and Sunshine Park, the biggest park in the city.

"It's really a crime against people, and from a fire chief's perspective it puts my firefighters at risk just simply responding to these but it also puts fear in the community," Streich said.

The cost of arson

Arson is more than just a property crime, the Andover Fire Department wrote on Facebook.

Of course, kids can no longer play on the equipment. But more importantly, a lot of resources are used to find the suspect and the focus is taken away from other public works projects.

The insurance claim creates more work and time, and the continued losses from fires increase the city's insurance rates, the department said.

To prevent more damage, investigators have removed some of the porta potties, cut down trees to make parks more visible, and increased surveillance, WCCO reported.

Authorities have said the $5,000 award is for credible information leading to the arrest of the suspect(s) through the Minnesota IAAI Reward Project.

Anyone who's seen something suspicious or has information should call the MN Arson Tip Line at 1-800-723-2020. And you'll have to fill out a reward application.

You can also submit a tip online here.

Or call the Anoka County Sheriff’s office at 763-427-1212.

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