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NCJ Number: 52298 Find in a Library
Title: ARSON - EPIDEMIC IN AMERICA
Journal: JOURNAL OF AMERICAN INSURANCE  Dated:(FALL 1974)  Pages:1-5
Author(s): ANON
Corporate Author: Alliance of American Insures
United States of America
Date Published: 1974
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: Alliance of American Insures
Chicago, IL 60606
Type: Statistics
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE EXTENT OF ARSON, THE REASONS FOR ITS RISE AND LOW ARREST RATE, AND SOME PROGRAMS DEVISED IN THE STATES, PARTICULARLY MICHIGAN, TO COMBAT THIS TREND ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: IT IS NOTED THAT ARSON HAS INCREASED TENFOLD SINCE 1950, WITH INCENDIARY FIRES ESTIMATED TO ACCOUNT TODAY FOR 30 PERCENT OR MORE OF ALL BUILDING LOSSES AT A TOTAL COST GREATER THAN ALL THE OTHER COSTS OF VIOLENCE COMBINED. IT IS INDICATED THAT THERE ARE FIVE BASIC CATEGORIES OF ARSON: ARSON TO COVER ANOTHER CRIME; VENGEFUL ARSON; ARSON BY THE MENTALLY-DISTURBED; FIRES SET BY JUVENILES; AND ARSON FOR PROFIT. ARSON FOR PROFIT IS BELIEVED TO BE THE FASTEST-GROWING TYPE OF INCENDIARY FIRE, WITH INNER CITIES EXPERIENCING THE GREATEST INCIDENCE. BUILDING OWNERS WHO CANNOT HOPE TO SELL OR GAIN A SIGNIFICANT PROFIT AT GOING MARKET PRICES FROM THEIR PROPERTY FREQUENTLY INSTIGATE ARSON TO COLLECT FROM THE FIRE INSURANCE COVERAGE ON THE PROPERTY. IT IS SHOWN, HOWEVER, THAT WHILE ARSON IS INCREASING, ARRESTS FOR THE CRIME ARE DECLINING. THIS IS BELIEVED DUE PRIMARILY TO THE SMALL NUMBER OF TRAINED ARSON INVESTIGATORS, PARTICULARLY IN SMALLER FIRE DEPARTMENTS. THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ARSON INVESTIGATORS, AN ORGANIZATION OF MORE THAN 2,000 PROFESSIONALS IN THE FIELD, HAS REGULARLY URGED IMPROVED COOPERATION AMONG FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE ORGANIZATIONS, PROSECUTORS AND ATTORNEYS, AND INSURANCE COMPANIES IN A JOINT EFFORT TO REDUCE ARSON LOSSES THROUGH INCREASED DETECTION AND CONVICTIONS. IN ADDITION TO THE LACK OF TRAINED ARSON INVESTIGATORS IN FIRE DEPARTMENTS, IT IS INDICATED THAT PROSECUTORS ARE RELUCTANT TO TAKE ARSON CASES TO COURT BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN CONVICTIONS IN THE PAST. PARTICULAR PROGRESS IN COMBATING ARSON IS NOTED IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN. IN MICHIGAN IN 1973, THE NATION'S FIRST STATEWIDE ANTIARSON COMMITTEE WAS FORMED, COMPOSED OF FIREFIGHTERS, ARSON INVESTIGATORS, LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL, PROSECUTORS, AND REPRESENTATIVES FROM OTHER CONCERNED GROUPS. THE COMMITTEE HAS SOUGHT TO DEVELOP EFFECTIVE INVESTIGATIVE AND PROSECUTORY TECHNIQUES THAT CAN BE USED IN MOST COMMUNITIES. IN ADDITION, SEMINARS AND TRAINING PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN SPONSORED BY THE COMMITTEE FOR VARIOUS PERSONNEL INVOLVED IN THE ARSON PROBLEM. STATES WITH SIMILAR ACTIVE COMMITTEES ARE LISTED. MUCH OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS REPORT COMES FROM A STUDY CONDUCTED BY THE STANFORD RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR THE U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Arson; Deterrence; Michigan; Statistics
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