By Cindy Denby
This year fall officially begins on Saturday, Sept. 22.
In Michigan, the season is marked by the leaves changing color and the opening of cider mills and hayrides across the state. Along with colorful landscapes and family excitement, what many residents may not know is that fall brings higher rates of reported arson than any other season.
According to the Insurance Institute of Michigan, one out of every three fires reported in Michigan during 2011 was an arson or suspicious blaze. In Michigan, arson is defined as unlawfully and intentionally damaging, or attempting to damage, any real or personal property by fire or incendiary devices. In 2011 alone, there were 2,264 arson and 8,288 suspicious fires reported in this state. Sixty-seven people died and 131 were injured from these arson and suspicious fires.
The Insurance Institute of Michigan reported that damages from these fires cost a total of $166 million last year. This cost does not include the secondary costs of medical care, funeral arrangements, temporary housing, business interruption, demolition, crime scene investigation, prosecution, court proceedings, incarceration, and insurance rates due to these arsons.
People who commit arson vary by gender, age groups, and cultural backgrounds. Arsonists usually work alone, while some do work in a group. Some cases of arson are impulsive, but this crime is often premeditated with motives such as profit, attention, to conceal another crime, thrill, and revenge.
Although not all arson fires can be prevented, as homeowners there are a number of precautions we can take to fight against this crime in our communities. Suggested preventive measures include always keeping entry doors and garages locked, turning outdoor yard lights on, collecting excess trash and debris from property, and reporting any suspicious activity to local law enforcement officials.
In addition to taking these necessary precautions, residents can help fight the crime of arson by reporting it. Any individual who has information about arson or suspicious blaze can call 1-800-44-ARSON.
If you have any questions or need assistance with any state issues, please contact me toll free at 866-828-4863 or via e-mail at email@example.com.