arsonist copying "dawn pyromaniac" of 2010

Ystad fires a "cry for help"

2:26 min

The city of Ystad in southern Sweden, known for being detective Kurt Wallander's crime-ridden hometown, is also known for being the target of choice for the so-called "Dawn Pyromaniac", a man who set fires in the early morning hours to historic wooden buildings in the city back in 2010.

Now a new series of fires are plagueing Ystad. Over the past fortnight, a series of fires have been started in a golf club, a tennis club, storage tents and a summer cottage, to name a few. The most recent incident occured on Monday night, when a family home was set on fire. The family were away on holiday, and no people have been harmed in the other fires either.

Dan Granvik, a criminal inspector at Skåne county police who worked on the case of the first Ystad arsonist, told Swedish Radio he thinks the new arsonist is a "copycat", and is staging similar events in reference to the Dawn Pyromaniac.

"If you look at the choice of time and place, it's evident that someone is trying to do the same thing", said Granvik.

Granvik said it wouldn't be difficult for someone to copy the Dawn Pyromaniac given the fact that his methods made local headlines at the time. Granvik and fellow police suspect that the arsonist behind the recent fires, which occured mainly in the early morning and in the town of Ystad, has chosen to imitate the "Dawn Pyromaniac" in order to get on the front pages.

"It could be a cry for help. They might want to get media attention, and the best way to do that is to copy the person who got that attention before", said Granvik.

The fact that the buildings that were set on fire were all empty, makes Granvik think the new arsonist is harmless, and that the fires are a cry for attention from a potentially troubled individual.

"It could be someone who has pyromaniac tendencies, but who hasn't excercised them. If something makes them go off the rails, then the match might get lit, so to speak", Granvik said.

Although no one has been harmed, the people of Ystad are unsettled by the new round of fires, as Ewa-Gun Westford, head of information at Skåne county police, told Swedish Radio.

"People have tried to put it behind them, but now that it's happening again, fear has started to creep in. You can see the fires clearly, the smoke is visible. So people feel afraid and nervous, and we can understand that", she said.

Local police have said they will increase security in the area in the hopes of preventing further fires.