AMERIND Risk ALARM Newsletter - 2015 2nd Quarter 2015 - Page 10

ALARM AT HOME SAFETY TIPS Reducing Residential Arson: Why Arson? The motivations behind the burning of homes are curiosity, vandalism, concealing another crime, excitement, revenge and insurance fraud or arson for profit. Curiosity 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. Vandalism 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. Excitement 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. Revenge 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 or 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. 9 AMERIND Risk ALARM | Q2 Reducing Residential Arson: Establishing a Community Arson Watch Program A neighborhood’s arson problem can range from youngsters setting nuisance fires to a full blown crisis with a serial arsonist. Following the successful Neighborhood Watch five-step program model provides an effective groundwork. Step 1 The first step is to analyze the specific local problem and collect related data. Strategies that address the problems in a given area must be mapped out. From the outset, it is essential that neighbors work together. This effort provides an opportunity for neighbors to meet and get to know each other, something that has become less common lately. It is crucial to include neighborhood involvement for the process to be successful. In addition to not being familiar with your neighbors, the dilemma is compounded by the fact that many adults in these neighborhoods work multiple jobs frequently with odd hours, making it extraordinarily difficult to schedule meetings and organize events. Step 2 Once the neighbors have a connection, the second step involves building a partnership between fire and emergency services, the police and other law enforcement agencies, and the residents. This is often the most difficult step to hurdle because there is usually angst between the residents and law enforcement for the existing crime problem that exists in their community. Step 3 The third step is to assess the needs of a given neighborhood and in the case of arson, how the fire and police departments can work with the residents. Neighborhood Watch states, “In many cases, law enforcement and community members do not have the same focus. An effective Neighborhood Arson Watch program will combine the needs of the fire and police departments with those of the neighborhood when determining which problems to focus on and the methods used to address them. Step 4 The fourth step in setting up a Neighborhood Watch program is choosing and training a dynamic group of volunteers that are led by organized and motivated leaders. If the group leaders are devoid of motivation and organization, the volunteers may be uninspired to participate and quickly quit out of disappointment and frustration. Step 5 The fifth and final step is to develop meaningful projects specific to the identified problem. Often, after a Neighborhood Watch has addressed its original issue, members lose interest. It is important for leaders to remain passionate. One way to accomplish this is to design new projects so that there is always a goal towards which the team of volunteers is aspiring. (Source: www.usfa.fema.gov)