Police seek man in attempted Wells Fargo arson

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – A crime alert out of Hopewell, where police are looking for the man who tried to set a bank on fire using a propane tank.

It's the kind of thing you're more likely to see at a backyard barbeque, but in this case Hopewell Police say the man brought it to the ATM.

It was 3:00 a.m., and the man was caught on surveillance camera at the Wells Fargo branch at 425 S. 15th Ave. Police say the man intended to ignite the propane with a burning rag. It's not entirely clear whether he intended to blow open the ATM, or burn down the entire building.

But the thing is, police say the tank never blew up. If it did, we would've had a whole different story.

"Situation like that, you would have basically a flame thrower...shooting flames out," said John Zacharias of Capitol Oil & Propane Co. in Richmond.

Zacharias added the man in the picture probably had some mis-guided ideas.

"Obviously, they don't know much about propane, and not much common sense there."

Generally, the tanks are built to prevent explosions. The steel is too thick, and the gas won't escape easily…at least not without a grill attached.

"The rag just eventually would've gone out," Zacharias said.

And that's what appears to have happened here. Police say nobody was hurt, and nothing was damaged....a would-be barbecue, that was anything but well done.

The suspect was caught on camera but not by police. Authorities say if you've seen him, give them a call.

Police want to hear from people who happened to be near S. 15th Avenue around 3:00 Monday morning. The number to call is Hopewell/Prince George Crime Solvers at (804) 541-2202.

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