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Selkirk teen charged with arson

Bethlehem police have arrested a 17-year-old Selkirk resident for allegedly setting fire to a Delmar home Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Benjamin P. Van Zandt was arraigned today in Bethlehem Town Court on charges of arson in the third degree, burglary in the second degree, criminal mischief in the second degree, grand larceny in the fourth degree and and reckless endangerment in the first degree. All are felonies. Van Zandt was remanded to Albany County jail without bail.

The late-morning fire did significant damage to the Hasgate Drive home. The family was not home at the time. A fund has since been established for the Lilley family through SEFCU Bank.

Police said they think Van Zandt was aware no one was at home and noted he attended school with one of the family's children, but also did not appear to have any history of altercations with the family member. He also does not have any criminal history.

Police declined to go into details on how Van Zandt allegedly lit the fire, but said he did take personal property from the home. Van Zandt's home was not far from the location of the fire, and would have been accessible by a short bike ride or walk.

An investigation was started before the fire was even out, said Bethlehem police Lt. Thomas Heffernan.

We knew right from the beginning that the family wasn't home, the residence was unoccupied, it appeared suspicious, he said.

Police conducted extensive interviews within the neighborhood, he continued, which eventually led to the arrest.

Van Zandt is scheduled to reappear in Bethlehem Town Court on Monday, Aug. 16, for a preliminary hearing.

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