Arson is difficult to solve and harder to stop

By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

Six arson cases were reported in Bonney lake during 2003, a number that keeps the city in line with the rest of the nation.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 350 people lost their lives nationwide and $1.1 billion dollars of property was lost to arson in 2002.

"The arson problem in Bonney Lake is no more or less than you would find across the nation," said Assistant Fire Chief John McDonald of East Pierce Fire and Rescue. "We're about average."

"Arson hurts everybody, either directly or indirectly," said Karl Newman, president of the Washington Insurance Council, through a press release. "We're committed to stopping arson in communities across the state. We're asking everyone to help us save lives and property."

"It is a very difficult crime to prove," McDonald said. "It's predominately circumstantial evidence unless you catch the person with the match in hand. It's often times difficult to piece together, difficult to prove and difficult to get prosecutors to move ahead."

The Arson Alarm Foundation and the Washington Insurance Council have teamed up to offer a $10,000 reward annually to anyone who helps investigate, arrest and convict arsonist.

The foundation stated more than $100,000 has been awarded over the past decade.

Beside structural fires, fire set in Dumpsters, garbage cans and portable bathrooms are also reported as arson.

Arson facts and figures

€ During 2002, a total of 12,454 law enforcement agencies reported 74,921 arson offenses to the Uniform Crime Report Program.

€ For the 66,308 arson offenses for which law enforcement supplied supplemental data, the average dollar loss was $11,253.

€ By property type, the average dollar loss for structural property destroyed by arson was $20,818, the average dollar loss for mobile property was $6,073, and the average dollar loss for other property types was $2,536.

€ Law enforcement agencies collectively cleared 16.5 percent of arsons. Juvenile offenders accounted for 43 percent of arsons cleared in the nation in 2002.

€ Nearly half (49.4 percent) of those arrested for arson in 2002 were under the age of 18. Overall, 67.8 percent of those arrested for arson were under age 25. Males comprised 84.8 percent of persons arrested for arson. Of the males arrested for arson, 51.7 percent were under the age of 18, and 37.0 percent of the females arrested for arson were under the age of 18.

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