Vehicle Arson, A Cause for Concern in St. Mary’s County?

May 16, 2017

Gov. Larry Hogan has declared May 7 to May 13 as Arson Awareness Week. With that in mind, the Southern Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal spoke about the incidence of arson in St. Mary’s County.

“There have been 24 investigations initiated in St. Mary’s County since Jan. 1, 2017,” said Commander Duane Svites through e-mail.

He said that while the majority, 13, of those have been deemed accidental, 10 of those appear to be arson and remain under investigation (with 1 false alarm) in calendar year 2017.

Svites highlighted two concepts. He highlighted a demographic—juveniles—as a troublesome group with arson. He found vehicle arson most apparent in the most recently available statistics.

“Vehicle arsons started significantly rising around 2007/2008, when the market took a hit. Generally, many of the fires that we’ve solved have proven to be fraud related or stolen cars used in the commission of another crime and then set on fire to try and destroy evidence,” Svites said.

Svites also spoke on the reasoning of people setting fire to cars, if one could call it type of cognitive “reasoning.”

“The fraud motive seems to be the newest trend beyond the ordinary revenge, malicious destruction of property, vanity, pyromania etc. However, juvenile arsons have been a consistent problem that the State struggles to deal with head-on.

“It is a cross between a child development issue and a fire issue and because of the amount of resources needed to attack it properly, it has become a weighted and difficult task to tackle,” Svites said.

By Zach Filtz, for Southern Maryland News Net