Arson Awareness Week

Reducing Residential Arson: Why Arson? Next: Arson Facts

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The motivations behind the burning of homes are curiosity, vandalism, concealing another crime, excitement, revenge and insurance fraud or arson for profit. Recent examples of arson incidents


Curiosity fires are most often set by juveniles. The misuse of fire has many variables including age, motivation for firesetting behavior, type of fires set, ignition materials used to set the fire, and the child’s understanding and limitations of fire. Firesetting behavior is often a symptom of the problem and may be manifested through stress and crisis in children’s lives. Youth firesetting was the focus for the 2012 Arson Awareness Week.


Vandalism or the criminal offense of malicious mischief can be the result of boredom, peer pressure or even gang activity. Vandalism is most common at abandoned or vacant homes. According to interFire, an online resource for arson investigation, whether the buildings are abandoned or vacant, more than 70 percent of the fires occurring in them are incendiary or suspicious.

Concealing Another Crime

Arson is sometimes used to mask or conceal another crime such as murder. The criminal sets the crime scene ablaze hoping that the victim’s death will be attributed to the fire and not murder. Other crimes such as burglary and larceny are also commonly covered up by an arson fire.


Most excitement fires are nuisance fires but may escalate to homes. Excitement-motivated arsonists desire the thrill associated with setting the fire and relish the attention it brings. They rarely intend to injure people but don’t have the requisite knowledge to keep the fires under control.


According to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, the most common motive (41 percent) for a serial arsonist is revenge. An arsonist will target the home of someone in retaliation for an actual or perceived injustice against him or her.

Insurance Fraud / Arson for Profit

Arson for profit is insurance fraud, a criminal method of obtaining money from a fire loss policy. The losses for arson are staggering! Dennis Jay, the Executive Director for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, states, “Arson schemes are dangerous and damaging. Torching homes for insurance money endangers innocent neighbors and brave firefighters. These senseless insurance crimes also raise premiums for all honest homeowners at a time when every penny counts. We must pour water on insurance arson.” Arson for Profit was the theme for the 2009 Arson Awareness Week campaign.