NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — A North Attleboro business owner has been charged with arson after reportedly setting fire to her own store, 12 News has learned.
According to the police report obtained by 12 News, 46-year-old Vicki Bertelson has been identified as the woman caught on camera inside G.I. Joe’s Army and Navy Store on East Washington Street just before the fire broke out on Aug. 1.
The woman in the video was seen smoking a cigarette. The video showed a bright light coming from her hand as she stepped out of frame, and then a small flame could be seen igniting a nearby display.
The flame continued to grow, engulfing a display, but firefighters were able to contain it and save the building.
Police said that after leaving the store, Bertelson took an Uber to a restaurant in Wrentham, where patrons claimed she was speaking loudly on her phone about it being “her last meal” and that she was going to jail for arson. Nearby staff and customers said they felt “uneasy,” the police report said.
After three weeks of investigating, police charged Bertelson with arson. She was arraigned on Friday, where a not guilty plea was entered on her behalf.
Bertelson was released on $5,000 bail with conditions pending her next court date, which is scheduled for Oct. 27.
Despite the building being spared, the store has opted to permanently close its doors.