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Police: Man Has Set Fires 3 Times At Upper East Side Businesses

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A serial arson suspect on the Upper East Side has business owners worried for the safety of their stores.

As CBS2's Valerie Castro reported, merchants are banding together in hopes of tracking the suspect down.

Surveillance video shows a Good Samaritan pulling a flaming piece of cardboard away from an Upper East Side consignment shop on 81st Street on Tuesday, July 26. Just moments earlier, police said a fire was intentionally set at the consignment shop.

The video also shows the suspect throw several pieces of cardboard in front of the store while wearing a winter coat, hat and sunglasses. He then pours a liquid and ignites it.

The people walking by noticed the flames, grabbed the cardboard, and called 911 – saving the store from any real damage until the suspect returned a week later.

The man repeated the crime, this time destroying the front door at the consignment shop, Gentlemen's Resale.

"He's got to get caught, because everybody's worried," said Mike Salvato, who owns the hair salon across the street. "I'm worried. The woman next door is worried. Everybody's worried."

Salvato said business owners have posted a picture of the suspect in their windows. Staffers at the flower shop next door were thankful their workplace was still open.

"Just grateful it wasn't us, and the owner here was in Europe, so it would have been awful to have happen while he was gone," said Maureen McManus.

The concern ran especially high after hearing the Organic Cleaners on East 82nd Street was also hit.

"It's horrible, it's obviously, but he's mentally ill probably," said Upper East Side business owner Amanda Keep.

No one is sure of the motivation for the arsons, but business owners said it was no one they recognized – especially covered up in winter gear.

"You can't tell!" Keep said. "He looks like Kenny from 'South Park!'"

But residents were still hopeful that someone knows who the suspect is.

"You've got to catch the guy. You've got to catch the guy. You've got to get rid of him!" Salvato said.

The flier described the suspect as a young white male who lives in the area. It said he rides a bicycle, wears a baseball cap and sunglasses, and has a tattoo on his left leg.

The consignment shop owner said his business will be closed until Aug. 19 for repairs. Thankfully, he said, the only damage inside was from smoke.

The consignment shop has been in business for 24 years, but the owner said nothing similar had ever happened before.

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