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Understanding The Enemy: Profiles and Motivations of an Arsonist

Kendra Weikman | - For sources, see Editor's note.

Crime Concealment Motivated Arson

Arson is a secondary or collateral criminal activity perpetrated for the purpose of covering up a primary criminal activity of some nature. The types of crime concealment motivated arson included in this category: murder concealment.

The fire is an attempt to obliterate the fact that a homicide has been committed, destroy forensic evidence and/or conceal the victim’s identity.

In a burglary concealment arson the crime scene often reflects the use of available materials to start the fire and the presence of multiple offenders.

In the case of auto theft concealment, the offender will use and or strip and burn the vehicle to eliminate prints. This crime frequently involved multiple offenders.

Wwhen arson is used with the purpose of destroying records, the fire is set in the area where they are contained. In arson-for-profit cases records are commonly one of several points of fire origin.

Alcohol and recreational drugs use is common to the crime-concealment motivated arsonist. The offender can be expected to have a history of police or fire department contacts or arrests.

The offender is most likely a young adult who lives within the surrounding community and is highly mobile especially someone involved in auto theft. The offender who uses arson to conceal burglary or auto theft is routinely accompanied to the scene by co-conspirators. Almost all offenders in this category leave the crime scene immediately and do not return.

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