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Princeton police make arson arrests

Two juveniles who went on a fire-setting spree over the weekend on the Princeton University campus and the Institute for Advanced Study have been arrested, according to the Princeton Police Department.

A 14-year-old Montgomery Township boy and a 17-year-old Princeton boy were arrested April 9 after they were observed setting a fire in the woods behind the Holly House at the Princeton Community Village affordable housing development off Bunn Drive, police said.

The teenagers were tracked to a local home by investigators from the Princeton Police Department, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Princeton University Department of Public Safety, with help from the New Jersey State Police Aviation Bureau.

Police have filed juvenile petitions against the two boys for several counts of arson, burglary and related charges. Collectively, the fires caused damage of about $1 million.

The first fire occurred on April 5 when they set fire in a trash can in the men’s bathroom at the Princeton University football stadium, said Robert Gregory, director of the Town of Princeton’s Department of Emergency and Safety Services.

On April 6, the teenagers set a fire in a 12th-floor classroom at Fine Tower, Gregory said. Just as Princeton Fire Department volunteer firefighters were cleaning up after that fire, they were called to the Institute for Advanced Study in response to a fire that the teens had set in a bathroom at the West Building.

The teenagers had set two more fires that fizzled out before they could cause damage, Gregory said.

Those fires – one in Jadwin Hall, which is a classroom building attached to Fine Tower, and a second one that had been set in a restroom at the Princeton University football stadium – were discovered by Princeton University maintenance staff.

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