Chapter 16


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Chapter 16

  1. 1. ArsonChapter 16 © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  2. 2. Objectives• Describe the three elements of arson• Describe the necessity of proving motive• Describe and give examples of the different types of motives• Describe various techniques that could be arson indicators• Describe characteristics that may indicate that the fire was intentionally set © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  3. 3. Case Study• Homeowner leaves for 12 hour drive to vacation home on Sunday – Arranges for neighbor to check the house on Tuesday• Power fails at home on Sunday night• Considerate neighbor checks house early Monday when power comes back on – Finds small fire in basement and extinguishes with water buckets – Discovers arson set-up with timer: used soldering iron to ignite combustibles stacked on table © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  4. 4. Case Study (cont’d.) Figure 16-1 The electrical timer allows for a time delay of just under 24 hours. © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  5. 5. Introduction• Under most circumstances, the fire officer is not the one to complete the investigation on an incendiary or intentionally set fire – Assigned investigator could be someone who works for the fire department or the police department – Initial investigation may be started by the fire officer © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  6. 6. Impact on the Community• Criminal act of arson has an impact on each and every person in the community – Insurance payment is predicated on the anticipated losses – More direct impact in your community is the potential for injury or loss of life – Often, arson is directed at older structures that may seem of less value • However, these may be irreplaceable pieces of a community’s history © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  7. 7. Arson: The Crime• To have the crime of arson there must be a corpus delicti (body of the crime) – If nothing was damaged, there was no crime of arson• Three elements to the crime of arson – There must be clear evidence that something burned – The burning had to have been an intentional act by the perpetrator – There must have been malice in the setting © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  8. 8. Arson versus Incendiary• For years, arson has been a crime against property – Now it is also recognized as a crime against people• As a general term, an incendiary fire is one that is intentionally and willfully set• The decision as to which term is used should be set in a department policy with the proper terminology – This document must be approved by your jurisdiction © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  9. 9. Motives• In many states, it is not necessary to have a motive to get a conviction – Motive can be a vital part of the prosecution’s case in court – Juries want to know why the defendant committed the crime• Classification of pyromania has changed – Use of pyromania as a motive is an oversimplification of a more complex issue © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  10. 10. Vandalism• Usually associated with juveniles and adolescents – Also with gangs• Usually, but not always, done in groups © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  11. 11. Excitement• People who are bored and want the thrill• Sometimes even stay around to help the firefighters © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  12. 12. Revenge• Person – When the revenge is aimed at a person, it is more obvious • May be vandalism of personal property – Interviews are key to discovering the motive – Checking into relationships may be revealing• Group – Perceived injustice against a group can cause perpetrator to lashes at something representative • Churches and synagogues are common targets © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  13. 13. Concealment of a Crime• Criminal will seek to cover up the crime just committed – Some criminals turn to arson in the hopes of destroying the crime scene• Almost any serious crime can result in the perpetrator setting a fire for concealment – Before DNA analysis, this worked for murder – Other crimes include burglary, robbery that leads to murder, fraud, and embezzlement © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  14. 14. Profit• Sometimes obvious and sometimes not so obvious – Business on hard times – Vehicle owner wanting to get out from under a high vehicle payment – Crime of extortion is committed where a business is threatened with a fire – Some types of fraud can be obscure at first • Burning neighbor’s property to get access to a scenic view © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  15. 15. Profit (cont’d.)• Insurance fraud – For every type of insurance policy, there is a way to commit fraud • Major companies have special investigative units • Insurance investigator may cooperate with government investigator, but cannot conspire against the accused – Insurance policy • After a fire, the insurance company requires a written proof of loss • The insured must present themselves for an examination under oath © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  16. 16. Extremism• Terrorism is the best example of this type of fire setter• This type of attempt at social change has been around since recorded history• Extremists are willing to use whatever means necessary to force their ideals upon others• The United States has its own share of home grown extremism in various organizations © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  17. 17. Opportunity Figure 16-3 An analog clock located on the kitchen oven. A check with the occupants is necessary to ascertain whether it was accurate or set for the correct time. © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  18. 18. Incendiary: Arson Indicators• World of fire investigation is not black and white – Culmination of all the facts eventually gives an accurate hypothesis © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  19. 19. Location and Timing of the Fire• Arsonist wants the fire to burn as long as possible before being discovered – After midnight and in the early morning hours• The location on the property where the fire is set is also a key giveaway – Has to be a location that will allow the fire to spread – Fire may be set in the area with the most volatile fuel – Multiple set fires are an obvious giveaway © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  20. 20. Fuel, Trailers, and Ignition Source Figure 16-4 An ignitable liquid pour down a set of steps. The separate char on the left side of the lowest step is from a cardboard box that was left on the steps. © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  21. 21. Challenge the Unusual Figure 16-7 Burn pattern on the wall where a pot of gasoline ignited. Notice the V pattern from the smoke and the inverted V from the flames that burned the wall clean. © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  22. 22. Contents Figure 16-10 Empty cabinets in an occupied home is suspicious. The fact that all the doors were left open prior to the fire may suggest that the cabinets were emptied prior to the fire. © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  23. 23. Sifting a Scene Figure 16-15 Sifting a scene: two investigators handling the screen, while a third shovels in the debris. The fourth person documents, photographs, and packages any evidence found. © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  24. 24. Summary• There are three elements to the crime of arson – First, something must have burned – Second, the burning must have been intentional – Third, the element of malice must be present• Motives for setting the fire are far ranging – Vandalism, excitement, revenge, crime concealment, profit, and extremist• Many indicators give various clues as to how the fire was started or why the fire occurred © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning