Cops: Man Set Bible On Fire Inside Walmart

Defendant sought distraction so he could steal

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Flaming Bible

DECEMBER 18--In a dopey diversionary scheme, a North Dakota man doused a Bible with lighter fluid and ignited the Good Book inside a Walmart, believing that the fiery distraction would allow him to steal merchandise without detection, investigators report.

Cops allege that Andrew Ells, 27, set the fire Friday at a Walmart in Bismarck, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Wearing a disguise that included a “camouflage balaclava,” Ells torched the Bible in the Walmart’s garden section. The resulting blaze caused no injuries, but a store manager told police that “the loss of merchandise due to smoke damage was approximately $300,000.”

The incident was recorded by store surveillance cameras, and the footage led cops to Ells, who reportedly confessed during police questioning Monday.

Seen above, Ells said he “had a Bible with him that he had under his disguise,” adding that he “used lighter fluid and put this on the Bible.”

Ells, the affidavit states, said his “reasoning for igniting the fire, was a distraction so he could steal the items he had in the cart.” The affidavit does not detail what Ells sought to steal (or whether he succeeded in boosting the items).

Charged with arson, Ells is locked up in lieu of $25,000 bail on the felony count. A judge has ordered him to have no contact with Walmart. (2 pages)