Target Arson: Update 1991. A Study of Selected Old and New Variables


Marketing and Professional Sales

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1992


The purpose of this study is to replicate and extend earlier studies on the impact of economic and sociological variables upon the incidence of arson fires and losses. The data used in this study covered the period from 1960 to 1988. Initially, a total of 180 variables classified generally as either economic or sociological were chosen for inclusion in the study. These variables were selected based upon their inclusion in other studies in which arson is investigated or upon literature suggesting that a variable is related to arson. Fourteen variables were found to have a significant relationship with the incidence of arson fires and losses. Implications for various individuals and government agencies are discussed. The number of Incendiary or Suspicious Fires was strongly and positively related to the Loss Ratios sustained on Forgery bonds (data were supplied by the Surety Association of America). This same independent variable appeared in both of the other equations and was the only one that did so. While one might postulate that this relationship indicates situations in which arson was attempted as a cover for the crime of forgery which was detected, it is perhaps wiser to think of it as a proxy for crime.