Five male youths, aged 14 to 16, were seen to be setting a large bin alight at the back of stores on Murraygate, Dundee, at about 9.10pm on Sunday, January 23.
The CCTV footage also captured them engaging in other anti-social behaviour.
Police said that they had been dealing with a number of incidents involving anti-social behaviour caused by groups of youths, but noted that this event marked “a serious turn”.
Sergeant Chris Grieve from the City Centre Community Policing Team said: “Young people misbehaving and causing inconvenience around the city centre is not going to be tolerated, and we are adding extra patrols in the centre during the evening hours.
“Setting fires is incredibly stupid and dangerous, and it is extremely fortunate that no-one was injured or that more property or cars weren’t damaged in this incident. Contents of bins cannot be known and could have contained items that were hazardous, or pressurised containers that could explode.
“We know that many of these youths are coming to the centre from outlying areas of the city. We would like to ask parents to be aware of where your young ones are, and who they are with. And if they came home last night smelling of smoke or accelerant, we want to hear from you.”
Police also released descriptions of the individuals involved. One male was seen to be wearing a black puffer jacket, a black tammy hat and dark bottoms.
A second was riding a scooter and was wearing a grey hooded top with a black gilet and grey bottoms.
A third youth was wearing a grey hooded top and dark bottoms with a white stripe down the leg.
Another had on all dark clothing including a hooded top.
The last individual caught on CTTV was seen in a dark hooded top and light bottoms.
Anyone who has any information that could help the investigation can contact Police Scotland by calling 101, quoting reference number 3362 of January 23. Alternatively, you can call CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.