The slow economy could be contributing to an increase in claims involving auto fires, according to an official with the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
“Common sense tells you that more desperate people will take more desperate measures to get themselves out of trouble,” said Coalition representative James Quiggle in a News 4 I-Team report.
Cracking the case on vehicular arson is difficult to prove in court, as Maryland officials are discovering. Of more than 2,000 suspected auto arsons in the state during 2013, fewer than 50 cases had sufficient evidence to turn the matter over to prosecutors.
Findings from a 2009 report of the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) reveal the following:
- Approximately 10 percent of all vehicle fires are intentionally set.
- Intentional vehicle fires are at their highest during the summer, with a July peak.
- Matches are the leading heat source (20 percent) of intentionally set vehicle fires.
- Vehicle seats (34 percent) and uncontained fuel (14 percent) represent the starting point of many intentionally set vehicle fires.
Arson generally has a low clearance rate, according to crime reports from the U.S. Department of Justice. Arson involving motor vehicles, which represent 20 percent of all arson cases, have a particularly low closure rate of approximately 7.4 percent nationwide.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics indicate that motor vehicle arson may not be a major concern in the state, with fewer than 300 cases of auto arson reported for 2012.