This newspaper has published countless stories about victims of crimes in its 90-plus year history, retelling their stories and imploring help in solving crimes that had been committed against them.
We’ve also detailed the arrest of thousands upon thousands of suspects and sought help in finding others, wanted in an assortment of cases from murder and kidnapping to armed robberies.
Until just recently, however, all those stories have been told from a completely impartial stance, reporters recounting details from police reports, victim testimony, court records, witness accounts and officer information.
Today, however, on Page A2 of this paper, is a far more personal account; the victim, the newspaper itself. We are an apparent target of an arsonist intent on, at the very least, wreaking havoc and unrest and, quite frankly, doing quite a bit of damage in the process.
So far — and most thankfully — all that has been lost are a few recycling containers and some pieces of scorched siding, but our fear is that the person responsible for these crimes will get braver and, at the same time, more careless, starting a fire that we won’t be fortunate enough to have doused before real harm can be done to our building, homes nearby or other businesses around the block.
To someone out to stir up a little trouble or merely watch a fire burn, it might seem improbable that a tiny fire set in a dumpster or a recycling bin could be any more than an inconvenience. That is ignorant thinking, particularly considering the winds we’ve had of late. Combine those March winds with an accelerant and suddenly a small fire can erupt in to a large and hard-to-contain blaze.
We know it; law enforcement officials know it; and fire officials are keenly aware of that fact, too. We’re afraid our arsonist might not be, or worse still, might not care.
And that’s why we now need your help.
Along with the Page A2 story is a surveillance photograph of the person of interest in fires set on our property. If you even think you might recognize her, we ask that you call law enforcement officers at any of the numbers listed in the article or email them at the given address.
What you know may help us prevent minor criminal activity from becoming a major disaster. So we urge you to get involved, providing the tip that just might help solve a crime and prevent further problems from arising.
And a thank you
We cannot talk about the four fires that have been set at our building over the last month without giving a heartfelt thank you to Clinton firefighters, Sampson EMS, Clinton police and Fire Marshal Jerry Cashwell and deputy fire marshal Prentice Madgar.
Had it not been for their quick response, any of the small fires could have caused significant damage to our building if not completely destroyed it.
While thanks seems like a small gesture to offer for their time, patience, diligence and attentiveness, it comes with deep gratitude for jobs well done.
We’ve said it before, and we will continue to stress it today: Sampson County citizens are fortunate to have such dedicated individuals at the ready when trouble comes their way.
These men and women have been there for us, and our hat is off to them.