Police believe a stolen vehicle found engulfed in flames on Friday night was intentionally torched.
“It was definitely an arson,” said Sgt. Cliff Froehlich.
Moose Jaw’s police service and fire department responded to the 600 block of Ninth Avenue Southeast for a report of a vehicle on fire. After the fire was extinguished, it was discovered the vehicle was stolen from a residence on the 500 block of MacDonald Street.
The vehicle’s owner was out of the city at the time of the incident.
The matter is still under investigation. Police have no suspects at this time.
“I don’t know why they would torch it, (either) for just the thrill of the fire or whether they were looking to get rid of evidence.” Froehlich said. “It’s hard to determine exactly what they were thinking at the time that they lit it up.”
Froehlich said the investigation will proceed as officers speak with the owner, neighbours and any witnesses that saw the fire or live in the area near Ninth Avenue Southeast. Police hope those discussions reveal whether the theft of the vehicle was random or planned.
Arsons and thefts of motor vehicles were two of the six crime categories that saw statistical increases in 2013 compared to 2012. There were 13 arsons and 89 motor vehicle thefts in 2013.
Friday’s theft and arson may have been a crime of opportunity, Froehlich said.
“It’s a busy street. I think busier than what we realize. Vanier Collegiate is right there, McDonald’s restaurant is on MacDonald Street there as well. The Kinsmen Arena, SIAST is there. It’s a busy street, traffic wise both pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic,” Froehlich said.
He noted there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic right by the 500 block of MacDonald Street.
Froehlich couldn’t say whether or not the owner had a spare set of keys inside the vehicle.
“We preach that all the time: do not leave your keys or a spare set of keys in your vehicle,” Froehlich said.
He said keeping a spare set of keys inside the vehicle doesn’t do any good if you’re locked out with both sets of keys inside.
“We do not suggest that you leave a spare set of keys anywhere in your vehicle,” Froehlich said.
He also recommended hiding valuables left inside the vehicle and keeping vehicles locked.