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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75031 Find in a Library
Title: Arson and Arson Investigation in the United States
Journal: Fire and Arson Investigator  Volume:31  Issue:2  Dated:(October-December 1980)  Pages:45-56
Author(s): R E Carter
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article outlines the extent of arson in the U.S.; factors which contributed to the growth of the crime; and efforts by law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and private groups to bring the problem of arson under control.
Abstract: In 1978, the last year for which arson data were available, there were 173,934 incendiary and suspicious structural fires with an accompanying monetary loss of $1,340 million, approximately 25 percent of the total loss from fires in the U.S. for that year. Additionally, 1,070 people lost their lives in suspicious fires; this was 12.4 percent of all fire-related deaths in 1978. The motives for fire setting include arson for profit, revenge, and vandalism. Arson for profit is primarily responsible for the tremendous growth in the number of fires deliberately set each year. In addition, fires set for revenge result in many of the arson-related deaths every year. Most of the perpetrators who set fires to vandalize are young, between the ages of 12 and 25. Schools are a major target. A number of Federal agencies sponsor programs that deal with arson investigation; among them are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Insurance Administration (FIA), the LEAA, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. Fire Administration. The insurance industry has initiated several programs, including arson information-sharing services, a computerized registry of all fire loss claims of $500 or greater, increased training for claims adjusters and underwriters, and the development of a Model Arson Law. Private organizations, such as the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Arson Investigators have developed continuing education programs for arson investigators. The combined efforts of Federal, State, and local governments; insurance companies; private professional organizations; and police and fire officials will continue to increase the likelihood of detection and prosecution. This should cause a gradual and significant decline in the crime of arson during the next decade. Data on the estimated number of arson fires and resulting monetary loss for the years 1951-1977 are included in a table; estimates of number of fires, deaths resulting from them, and property losses for 1978 are listed in another table.
Index Term(s): Arson; Arson investigations
Note: Address presented at the Third International Fire Protection Engineering Institute, February 3-16, 1980, Wageningen, The Netherlands
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